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Commemorative Figure

This remarkably powerful figure is part of a broad tradition of commemorative figures produced by various peoples in the lower Sepik River area of Papua New Guinea. It was made to honor an ancestor, probably the founder of a lineage or a mythological ancestral hero. Its looming, formidable presence was a physical reminder of the importance of that ancestor. Kept inside a men’s house, the figure was displayed at rites intended to invoke the help of the spirits of deceased community members for the benefit of the living.

Lower Sepik River area, Papua New Guinea
Commemorative Figure
Before 1908
Wood, pigment, fiber
H. 80 in. (203.2 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection, 2010.11