An image of Painting from ceremonial house (spirit figure with wooden mask)

Wiski Busengin Woknot

(Papua New Guinea circa 1920 – 1976)

Ap Ma people

(Papua New Guinea  – )

Painting from ceremonial house (spirit figure with wooden mask)

Other titles:
Bark painting (Figure with wooden mask as head), Spathe painting with wooden mask
Not on display
Further information

Throughout the 1960s, comparable panels were found in villages west of the Keram River such as Lol, Paniten and Wom, where this panel originates. The men's ceremonial house in Angoram was also embellished with several similar panels, stitched together to form a large 'canvas'. Father Lehner of the Catholic Mission of the Divine Word sent examples to the Steyler Mission Museum in Germany, while another is in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

These all feature a carved and painted wooden head attached to the top of a support of sago palm petioles. Below the head, the body and limbs of a figure – possibly a culture hero or spirit – are painted in white clay and ochre pigments.

[entry from Exhibition Guide for 'Melanesian art: redux', 2018, cat no 20]

Place of origin
Wom Village, Keram River, Lower Sepik River, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea
Cultural origin
Ap Ma people
mid 20th century
collected 1965
sago palm petioles, wood, plant fibre, natural pigments
135.0 x 70.5 x 7.5 cm overall; 25.0 x 10.0 x 6.0 cm mask
Purchased 1965
Accession number
© Wiski Busengin Woknot Family