Si l’enfant représenté au dos de la figure principale illustre les liens généalogiques du clan, la tête que l’homme tient entre ses mains témoigne des exploits guerriers de l’ancêtre honoré. S’ajoutent les motifs géométriques, rehaussés de pigments rouges référant aux tatouages et aux scarifications identitaires propres à chaque clan. Symbolisant la promesse tangible faite par les vivants aux ancêtres défunts d’honorer leur mémoire, ce sommet de poteau s’impose en canon de l’art Asmat, tant par sa monumentalité que par sa puissance visuelle.
In the Asmat myths of Creation it is said as that the founding hero sculpted a great many monumental human figures and then started to play his drum. To the sound of the music, these figures came to life and became the original Asmat people (Meyer, Art Océanien, 1995, p. 82). From this myth was born the tradition of monumental sculpture, with this piece standing as a commanding exemplar. A part of a Bis ancestor pole, this figure was produced for an important ceremony: the inauguration of a House of men, the beginning of a headhunting raid or the opening of a new fishing season.
Although the child depicted on the back of the main figure illustrates the genealogical links of the clan, the head that the man holds in his hands is a testament to the glorious feats of the honoured ancestor in battle. These representations are enhanced by geometric patterns, highlighted by red pigments referring to identity tattoos and scarification specific to each clan. Symbolizing the tangible promise made by the living to deceased ancestors to honour their memory, this pole-top stands out as a canon of Asmat art, both in its monumentality and in its visual power.
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