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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Ceremonial Bowl

19th–early 20th century
Papua New Guinea, Tami Islands
Tami Islands
Wood, traces of lime pigment
L. 18 1/4 in. (46.4 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
The artists of the Tami Islands, a group of small islets off the eastern tip of
the Huon Peninsula, were the most prolific carvers in northeast New Guinea.
Tami carvers produced large quantities of objects, in part for local use but
primarily for trade to neighboring groups. The most important Tami trade
goods were intricately carved hardwood bowls, which formed an essential
component of the bride-wealth gifts exchanged at marriage ceremonies
throughout the region. Superbly crafted and highly polished, Tami bowls
served as ceremonial vessels, used for the preparation and distribution of
food during feasts and rituals. This bowl likely depicts the face of a spirit,
clad in the distinctive three-peaked ceremonial headdress (oa balan) worn
by prominent men.
W. R. Marshall, MD, Massapequa, NY, until 1967; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1967, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1967–1978

Bodrogi, Tibor. Art in North-East New Guinea. Budapest: Publishing House of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 1961.

Art From Melanesia. Purchase: Manhattanville College, New York, 1969, no. 79.

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.

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. 121.

Newton, Douglas. Masterpieces of Primitive Art: The Nelson A. Rockefeller Collection. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978, p. 52 lower left.

Dark, Philip J.C. "Astrolabe Bay, Huon Gulf, and West New Britain." In Arts of the South Seas: Island Southeast Asia, Melanesia, Polynesia, Micronesia: the Collections of the Musée Barbier-Mueller, edited by Douglas Newton. Munich: Prestel Publishing, 1999.

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, 70, 115-6.

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