New Guinea Native Ancestor Figure Wood Carving. Artist unknown, ca. mid-20th century. Large traditional ancestor wood carving of two males, one on top of the other--both decorated with fibre ornaments extending from the ears, elbows, and feet. The lower figure also has a wooden nose ornament. Both men have their arms folded up in the "praying mantis" position. The lower figure's head is attached at the chin to a crocododile's head. Figures have traditional black pigment on heads and remnants of white pigment on limbs. Measures approx. 76"H X 8" wide._x000D_
This form of traditional ancestor carving was created for the ceremonial Firawu feast that would inaugurate the communal construction of a man's house. In the house, the world of the living and the dead come together with the ancestors represented in the form of carved human figures on support posts stuck into the floor boards.Provenance:Geologist Orrin Hardy Main, born in 1930, spent most of his storied career with Freeport Minerals Company in NYC which became Freeport McMoran Company, then with one of it’s subsidiaries, Freeport Indonesia in New Orleans. He spent many years in Jakarta, Indonesia, & at the company’s copper mining operation at Teambagapura, Irian Jaya.Mr. Main was an avid collector of local Asmat wood carvings and other artifacts throughout the region while he lived and traveled there during the 1970’s. Upon his death in 2012, these prized carvings and artifacts became the property of his children, Douglas, Constance, & Orrin Main.