Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Ancestor Figure (Konumb or Atei)

Date:
19th century
Geography:
Papua New Guinea, Lower Sepik River
Culture:
Kopar or Angoram people
Medium:
Wood, paint
Dimensions:
H. 73 x W. 8 x D. 3 1/2 in. (185.4 x 20.3 x 8.9 cm)
Classification:
Wood-Sculpture
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1969
Accession Number:
1978.412.727
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 354
The Angoram and Kopar peoples who live along the lower reaches of the Sepik River in northeast New Guinea formerly created distinctive ancestor images (atei) with flat openwork bodies and fully modeled heads. Their bodies are frequently adorned, as here, with images of animals representing totemic species associated with the village clans and, occasionally, with smaller human figures whose significance is uncertain. Erected in lines standing shoulder-to-shoulder within the men’s ceremonial house, in the past, the powerful ancestor figures were reportedly consulted before hunting expeditions or raids on enemy villages.
Museum für Völkerkunde, Hamburg, until ca. 1952; [K.J. Hewett, London]; [John J. Klejman, New York, until 1958]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1958, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1958–1969; The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1969–1978

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Art of Oceania, Africa, and the Americas from the Museum of Primitive Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1969, no. 145.

The American Federation of Arts. Primitive Art Masterworks: an exhibition jointly organized by the Museum of Primitive Art and the American Federation of Arts, New York. New York: The American Federation of Arts, 1974, no. 125.



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