Lot 107
  • 107

A Rare Papuan Gulf, Gulf Province, Turamarubi People, Female Figure, Papua New Guinea

125,000 - 175,000 USD
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of large proportions, with wedge-shaped feet beneath straight legs, tapering hips and a columetric body with flat abdomen decorated with a panel of incised chevron motifs, a wedge-shaped back framed by cutaway arms, with a tapering neck supporting a massive head with forward projecting facial plane, a raised linear nose and large assymetrical eyes fashioned by a series of concentric ovals and inset with red seeds (abrus precatorius) for pupils, and human hair on top; fine and varied blackened surface with encrusted areas of red ochre and kaolin highlights.


Collected by George Craig, circa 1965
John Friede, New York
Wayne Heathcote, New York
The Masco Corporation, Detroit
Sotheby’s New York, May 17, 2002, lot 334


Detroit, The Detroit Institute of Arts, Island Ancestors: Oceanic Art from the Masco Corporation, June 11 - August 6, 1995 (for additional venues see bibliography, Wardwell 1995)


Wardwell, Island Ancestors: Oceanic Art from the Masco Corporation, 1995, p. 97, fig. 33

Catalogue Note

Large scale three dimensional carvings from the Papuan Gulf regions of the south coast of New Guinea are exceptionally rare. See Gathercole et al. (1979: nos. 25.10 and 25.11). Nicolas (2000: fig. 182) and Friede (2005: pl. 480) for related figures. Douglas Newton noted the following about a Friede figure, "... this figure was possibly used in the moguru, which is the principal ceremonial cycle of the Turama and Fly River people...However, the only Turamarubi carving he specifically associates with Moguru (Newton 1961: fig. 101) is very different in conception. According to Newton (ibid.,10), the moguru was initiated by the region’s culture hero, Maunogere. Newton continues, ‘the moguru is held once a year, and consists of three main episodes. It is preceded by a number of minor rituals, games and feasts; the real business begins when boys and girls who have reached puberty are ushered into the darimo (men’s ceremonial house) where—one sex at either end—they live for a period during which they are instructed in their coming duties as adults. For time to time they are terrorized by masked figures." Smaller figures such as those published by Friede (2005: pls. 489, 490 and 493) are also used in these ceremonies. See Friede (ibid.) for further discussion.