H: 35.5 cm (1’ 2”)
Estimated age: End of the 19th century or early 20th century
Provenance: Early German collection “Coll. Thesen, Cologne”
Estimate: € 2.000 - 3.000
The Abelam are a people who live in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. They are a farming society in which giant yams play a significant role. They live in the Prince Alexander mountains near the north coast of the island. Their language belongs to the Sepik family.
Abelam art is rich, with an emphasis on painting. Paint is seen as a magical substance that gives life to a piece of wood (carvings). Only then do the figures become powerful and active. Paint is a metaphor for a magical substance used in sorcery, which in this case is not life-giving, but life-taking. Different artistic styles can be recognized throughout Abelam territory, however, there are also many commonalities. Abelam artists are highly respected, but only rarely do they serve as political leaders.
A bird of paradise beautifully carved from balsa wood, decorated with polychrome pigments.