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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Pigment Bowl

19th century
Papua New Guinea, Middle Sepik River region
Iatmul people
Wood, paint
L. 7 x W. 1 5/8 x D. 1 1/8 in. (17.8 x 4.1 x 2.8 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 354
In addition to creating larger works of sacred sculpture, the peoples of the Sepik region in northeast New Guinea have highly developed traditions of decorative arts. As elsewhere in New Guinea, much of Sepik decorative art is devoted to the adornment of the human body. Sepik artists create diverse forms of jewelry, headdresses, and other personal ornaments. Personal possessions such as weapons, charms, and a variety of paraphernalia associated with the use of betel nut (the fruit of the areca palm, which is chewed as a mild stimulant) are often superbly crafted and adorned. As in larger works, the human and animal images that appear on these smaller objects typically portray ancestors, spirits, and other supernatural beings as well as totemic species associated with the owner's clan.
Collected in Yentschenmangua village by Max Bohmig, Dresden, Germany, by 1914–1924; The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia, 1924–1959; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1959, on permanent loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1959–1978

Kjellgren, Eric. Oceania: Art of the Pacific Islands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007, 44, 84.

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