With arms carved in relief, the fingers splayed on the thighs, the face with broad upturned open mouth with two rows of carved teeth, incised circular eyes, circular ears in relief on the domed coiffure which is painted red with black concentric circles, small breasts, the prominent genitals carved in relief, traces of red and black pigment about the face and body, marine animals carved in relief about the bottom of the truncated post, dark patina.
91 cm. high
Dr. Theo Dobbelmann, Amsterdam (1906-1984)
Harvey Menist, Amsterdam (1930-1982)
Anushka Menist, Amsterdam
New York, The Museum of Primitive Art, 1959
Paris, Musée de l’Homme, 1967
Kooijman, S., The Art of Lake Sentani, New York, 1959, no.36.
Arts primitifs dans les ateliers d’artistes, Paris, 1967, no.143.
The house posts and free standing figures were the most monumental art works of the Lake Sentani region. They served as architectural elements of the ceremonial and chiefs’ houses, structures built on posts inserted into the bottom of the lake. The tops of some posts were carved with figures which pushed through a hole in the floor. Only three ceremonial houses remained in Lake Sentani in 1900, at Ayafo, Asei and Ifar, and these were all destroyed in the mid 1920s under pressure from government authorities and missionaries. Some posts were hidden in the lake and retrieved when Paul Wirtz and Jacques Viot visited the area a few years later. Dirk Smidt (in Ancestors of the Lake: Art of Lake Sentani and Humboldt Bay, New Guinea, Houston, 2011, p.25) suggests that the presence of carved human figures in the ceremonial and chiefs’ houses was to create a sacred place where ancestors (represented by the sculptures) and their descendants could meet.