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Currently shown

Ceremonial House Post

Location

PAPUA NEW GUINEA, MIDDLE SEPIK

Culture

Iatmul

Title

Ceremonial House Post

Date

Before 1967

Materials

Wood

Dimensions

187.8 cm (h.)

Credits

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Leon Lippel, inv. 1975.Pc.91

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

A ceremonial house is built by clans that descend from the same ancestor. Posts carved with zoomorphic, anthropomorphic and geometric designs drawn from the clans’ oral traditions support its roof. Due to their large size, such posts are relatively rare in collections. Most often, as is the case here, only the upper part has been preserved. The carved face probably depicts an ancestral spirit, the noticeable tongue indicating its communicative power. As to the exact identity of such figures, however, ethnologists have been given differing information, depending upon whether they have spoken to Iatmul men or women. That underscores the possibility of a single object having a number of meanings, as well as the limits of ethnological studies.

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