Sawos Figural Skull Rack, Torembi Village, Middle Sepik River, Papua New Guinea
height 41 3/4in (106cm)
Sotheby's, London, June, 1979, Lot 113
Private Collection, New York
Finely stone carved, the female figure most likely representing Shotkaman-Agwi, the Sawos creator mother spirit, who "was said to have lived in the Blackwater Hills and is sometimes called Gun'hamal in the middle Sepik. She gave birth to three animal children - a pair of Gandju birds and a reptile, represented either as a crocodile or a snake. The reptile is said to have slithered to the sea, creating the sinuous course of the Sepik River." (Friede, 2005: p. 106)
In the work presented here, Shotkaman-Agwi is framed by two birds and a border carved with a reptilian-like design; the dark-brown patina is heavily encrusted.