The Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas
IUAM Home previous next  
Collections main page back to thumbnails  
Africa
West Africa
Central Africa
Oceania
Polynesia
Melanesia
The Americas
Middle America
South America

Native America

 

  enlarge

Oceania
Lower Sepik River area, Papua New Guinea
Commemorative Figure
Wood, pigment, fiber
H. 80 in. (203.2 cm)
Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection
Indiana University Art Museum, 2010.11


This remarkably powerful figure was made to honor and commemorate an ancestor. The skull-like form of the head emphasizes that the figure refers to a deceased person. The figure's great height—much larger than most Oceanic figures—reinforces the importance both of the particular person being remembered and of the ancestral world in general. A belief in honoring important deceased members of a community is one of the conceptual bases for the visual arts in Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.