Malu, Upper Sepik River, PNG. Early 20th Century.

This strong female figure is from Malu village, of the Manambu culture, in the Upper Sepik River. The figure wascarved to replace an ancient figure that left the village in the early 20th Century at the time the old village was situated among the swamps, south of the Sepik River. After the war, the village moved across the Sepik to its northern bank, and closer to small town of Ambunti.

Large figures are quite rare in these cultures; apart from large architectural carvings such as Haus Tambaran posts, their figurative work is more often found in food hooks and flute stoppers. The female figures tend to be rendered in an almost masculine fashion, with strong stance, knees slightly bent, arms apart, as if ready for movement. The head and face tend to be strong and bulky, almost aggressive. This is, in fact, a rendition of its protective power. The figures and food hooks are often covered in zig-zag motifs, one of the distinct features of Manambu design.
Collected by Barry Hoare in the 1960s, and taken to Australia when he departed Papua New Guinea in 1973. Ex-Radomir Joura collection, Sydney.


101 x 28 x 15

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