Lot: 132

98th Auction

Two ornaments

Papua New Guinea, Abelam

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
John Friede, Rye, USA
presumably ex Nelson A.Rockefeller (1908-1979) New York, USA
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA

Nelson Rockefeller founded the Museum of Primitive Art in 1954 and donated his own collection of Tribal Art. The museum closed in 1976, and its collections were transferred to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
H: 8.1 inch / 8.7 inch (ornament), L: 24.8 inch & 26.8 inch (sticks) sold

wood, lygodium vine, lime, red ochre, handwritten inventory numbers in red ink: "R65.1975.1" & "R65.1975.2" ("R64.1975.1" & "R64.1975.2")

In the center eye-shaped ornaments made of lygodium vine worked in Melanesian spiral coiling and attached centrally to a wooden stick.

There are different approaches to the function of these ornaments. Some refer to them as hair ornaments, others, like the Brooklyn Museum dub them dance ornaments (www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/168227).

The most plausible use seems to be as a body ornament, either of a human being or as an ornament of the particularly revered long yams, which represent ancestral spirits.