Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Male Figure (Aripa)

16th–19th century
Papua New Guinea, Middle Sepik, Korewari River region
Inyai-Ewa people
Wood, paint
H. 54 x W. 5 x D. 6 in. (137.2 x 12.7 x 15.2 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Purchase, Nelson A. Rockefeller Gift, 1967
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 354
With its brooding expression and stylized single leg with peglike protruding knee, this aripa figure captures the otherworldly quality of the helping spirit it represents. Carved by an artist of the Ewa people of the upper Karawari River in New Guinea, the figure shares certain stylistic features with others of its type. These include a prominent face, a central section depicting what are possibly internal organs, and a single leg. Within these conventions, however, the carver had free reign to depict the idiosyncratic anatomical features that characterized this particular spirit. Among the Ewa, each man owned such a figure. Kept in the men's ceremonial house, the figure depicted his individual helping spirit who aided him in the hunt.
Mary Madsen, Angoram, Papua New Guinea, until 1967; The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1967–1978

Art of Oceania, Africa, and the Americas from the Museum of Primitive Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1969, no. 176.

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