Lot 354: An Abelam statue
Possibly a depiction of the giant spirit of the Abelam, called Nggwal or Ngwalndu. Among the Abelam and Southern Arapesh peoples, Nggwal is personified as noises that can be heard coming from the spirit house or ‘haus tambaran’. This statue might have been placed in such a spirit house. Nggwal is the primary ancestor deity, though other cultural heroes are also often depicted in cultural and sacred arts. In contrast to simple windowless A-framed structured Abelam houses have spectacular spirit houses. These gabled triangular framed structures soaring to heights of 80 feet, with brilliantly painted facades are justly world famous as ‘Cathedrals of Stone Age’.
The male-dominated tambaran or tambaram culture uses the haus tambaran as a meeting-house and site for rituals and initiations. It is also used in worship for the yam cult, the yam being the staple food for the Sepik people. The women serve primarily as preparers of feasts, outsiders, and spectators.
It is important to note that painting is a sacred activity for the Sepik people, and the paintings of the Sepik people are taken very seriously. The white colour comes from burned and powdered mussel shells on the coast or, farther inland, from kaolin clays. Yellow comes from clay taken out from local foothills. Black comes from crushed charcoal. Papua New Guinea. H 144 cm.
Auction date: September 12, 2018
Estimate: EUR 3000-4000,-
Auction house: Venduehuis der Notarissen, Den Haag, The Netherlands