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Tami Islands Carved Figure

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RTCFA No. OC 0053
Tami Islands Carved Figure
Artist: Unknown
Wood and lime pigments, 21.25 x 4 x 3.25 in. (53.9 x 10.1 x 8.2 cm).

Geographic Location: Morobe Province, Huon Gulf
Region: Polynesia
Group / Tribe: Tami Islands

Description: The Tami Islands are a small group of islands in the Huon Gulf and part of the Morobe Province in Papua New Guinea. Even previous to European contact the Tami Island native peoples were known throughout the South Sea Islands as master carvers of elaborately carved bowls, figures, and ceremonial masks. Coe believed that this figure represented a mythological ancestor being bitten on the penis by the mythical selam snake, a creature that seduces and kills youths. The projection on top of the figure’s head represents a feather headdress. However, it may also be the remainder of a device in which the piece was hung in a ceremonial house.

Provenance: Purchased from Taylor Dale Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico in April 2000.

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