Large Washkuk Kwoma Spirit Figure, Namau Ablatar, Upper Sepik River, Papua New Guinea

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Lot 58
Large Washkuk Kwoma Spirit Figure, Namau Ablatar, Upper Sepik River, Papua New Guinea

Sold for US$ 15,000 inc. premium
Large Washkuk Kwoma Spirit Figure, Namau Ablatar, Upper Sepik River, Papua New Guinea
yina
Wood, pigments
height 75in (191cm)

Carved in light wood, the face of lozenge form and resting on a pole approximately equal in height, the domed head with brow extending downward and above the tubular, projecting eyes and an elongated nose running halfway down the face with a pierced septum, the diminutive mouth open with the tongue projecting out and down in three waves; painted overall on the front with serrated design on the edge and somewhat symmetric curvilinear designs within the border in black, yellow and red pigments; two horn-like forms on the back of the mask project downwards; fine weathered patina with encrustations.

PROVENANCE
Phillip Goldman, field collected in the 1950s
Marcia and John Friede Collection, Rye, New York

"The sacred objects of Yina-ma are the yina, wooden heads with long, neck-like shafts. Each is named, some being male, some female; each clan owned one or more minor yina, often as pairs of brothers and sisters, which were as a group regarded as brothers or sisters of a major male yina. Yina were perhaps associated particularly with lakes, in which the carvings had to be submerged from time to time, though they were not associated with definite places. The yina were not associated with the myths nor were there individual legends about those used in the yam cult. (There is, however, a Nukuma legend of a hero, the inventor of fighting, named Gurumbyi-yina.) Yina is itself an obscure word, unless it is cognate with the Abelam yina, bone daggers equivalent to hornbill beaks (Forge 1965: 30; the Kwoma word for "bone dagger" is ǝgi)...

...Kwoma yina (at any rate in recent times) are much larger than those of the Kukuma, about four or five feet to about nine feet high (151-152). the faces are much longer in proportion to the brow area, and often are deeply concave. The nose is long, and projects downward from the brow, detached from the face. The eyes are conical projections, sometimes set at the tips with discs of conus shell. The small ears are set high at the sides of the brow. The mouths are u-shaped...Among the Nukuma, a protruding tongue is said to indicate female yina. Behind the head there protrude downwards one or more long spikes; these represent the yina's daggers of human thigh bone such as were carried by important men. These occasionally suggest in form hornbill heads; this recalls that generally through the area hornbill beaks were worn by homicides attached to net bags worn on their backs (see 104)." (Newton: 1971, pp 84-15)

Cf. (Ibid.) Figures 151 and 152, formerly in the Museum of Primitive Art, New York (69.17 and 69.111).
Contacts
Large Washkuk Kwoma Spirit Figure, Namau Ablatar, Upper Sepik River, Papua New Guinea
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