AN ABELAM SPIRIT FIGURE

A Male ancestral Spirit Figure Nggwalndu area
Central Abelam, east Sepik Province
Papua New Guinea
19th / early 20th century

The Abelam people of the Prince Alexander Mountains north of the Sepik River practice perhaps the longest and most spectacular initiation cycle of any New Guinea people. Beginning in childhood, each Abelam male must pass through eight separate initiation rites over the course of twenty to thirty years, before he is a fully initiated man. Each successive ritual requires both a physical ordeal and the viewing of increasingly elaborate displays of sacred objects in specially constructed chambers within the men’s ceremonial house. This process continues until the final rites, in which the initiate is shown the largest and most sacred of all displays—the brilliantly painted figures and other images portraying the powerful clan spirits called nggwalndu.

Ex collection Philip and Rosalind Goldman, London
wood, 1.32 x 35 x 22 cm

Price: on request