Large Vanuatu Grade Female Figure, Ambryn Island
Lot 49W
Large Vanuatu Grade Female Figure, Ambryn Island
Sold for US$ 20,000 inc. premium
Auction Details
Large Vanuatu Grade Female Figure, Ambryn Island Large Vanuatu Grade Female Figure, Ambryn Island Large Vanuatu Grade Female Figure, Ambryn Island Large Vanuatu Grade Female Figure, Ambryn Island
Lot Details
Large Vanuatu Grade Female Figure, Ambryn Island
maghe ne naun or maghe ne hivir
Fernwood
height 82in (208cm)

PROVENANCE
Collected by the French explorer Francis Mazier
Jean Willy Mestach, Brussels, acquired from the above circa 1958
Private Collection, New York, acquired from the above circa 1970

"Much of the art of central and northern Vanuatu in the southwest Pacific is associated with grade rituals, a hierarchical series of initiations, each of which confers successively greater religious and political authority during life and in the realm of the dead. In some areas, individuals who have reached the highest grades are considered the living dead, having already achieved the status of ancestors.

Men's and women's grade rituals exist in most areas, but sculpture is created almost exclusively for men's grade rites.

This figure (like the present example) is carved from fern wood, the fibrous trunk of a tree fern composed of aerial roots surrounding a woody core. During the grade rites, grade figures are erected on the dancing ground and serve as temporary abode for the spirits associated with the grade. After the ceremony, the figure, its purpose served, is left on the dancing ground, its supernatural powers waning as it slowly disintegrates." (Metropolitan Museum of Art, WEB, nd, 2013)

The present work, with its depth and movement, exhibiting both power and grace, is an exceptional example of how sophisticated Vanuatu artists could be with the sculptural form.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note this lot should read - PROVENANCE: Collected by the French explorer Francis Mazier Jean Willy Mestach, Brussels, acquired from the above circa 1958 Private Collection, New York, acquired from the above circa 1970
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  1. Fredric Backlar
    Specialist - African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art
    Bonhams
    Work
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    Los Angeles, United States 90046
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