Lot: 9

Female ancestor figure "korwar", around 1920

Westneuguinea / Westpapua (Irian Jaya) - Cenderawasih-Bay, Korvar (Korwar) area

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Srdjan Sremac, The Hague, The Netherlands H: 12.2 inch 1500 EUR / 3000 EUR

wood, colour painted,

"Korwar" were carved shortly after the death of a high ranking individual, according to prescribed ritual and served as a dwelling place for the soul of the deceased.

The "korwar" were honored with ritual offerings and consulted before any important undertaking, such as a war expedition or an extended fishing trip.

"Korwar" imagery was highly conventionalized, depicting the ancestor in a seated or standing position with the robust head and arrow-shaped nose that are the hallmarks of the style. Although the sex of the figures is often difficult to determine, all were originally male or female, depending on the gender of the deceased.

Normally kept in the house of the deceased's family, "korwar" were also carried along on dangerous sea voyages to assure a successful outcome. Cenderawasih canoes had "korwar" heads incorporated into their prow and stern ornaments, and miniature "korwar" were carried as amulets. The pervasive presence of these ancestor images protected the living and emphasized the importance of ancestors in all aspects of everyday life.

West New Guinea or West Papua (Irian Jaya in Indonesian) is the western half of the island of New Guinea, which is part of the continent of Australia. West New Guinea is part of the Republic of Indonesia, while the eastern half forms its own state as Papua New Guinea. Cenderawasih Bay (formerly Dutch "Geelvinkbaai"), is a large bay in the north of Western New Guinea.