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Abelam Ceremonial Coconut Flute

Abelam Ceremonial Coconut Flute

Regular price €195,00
Regular price Sale price €195,00
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Abelam people, early to mid. 20th century, Maprik district, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea.

Magnificent, aged musical instrument. Internal part of carved small coconut used as a ritual flute with two holes. Finely engraved with geometric designs and presenting faces side to side. Probably involved in a fertility cult linked to the yam harvest. Yam farming was a often the main crop, making up a large part of the Abelam society. Ceremonial yams are lovingly cared for. During the yam growing season, strong emotions were kept to a minimum as they were thought to impede the growth of the yams. Fighting and sexual activity are taboo, it was thought that the yams had spirit and could sense these strong emotions. At harvest time, villagers would gather for the yam festival ceremony, at which time the farmers who presented the largest and best yams, often claimed a higher status and social ranking. The finest and largest yams are essentially transformed into human images, decorated like the men in full ceremonial regalia. The heads of these yams are adorned with a hand-painted and finely woven vegetal masks. 

Good condition. Age-related wear. Smoothed deep dark brown patina. Size approx. 6,6cm x 5,9cm x 6,0cm.

Provenance: Finnish private collection

References and further reading:

Abelam Masks: New Perspectives, Richard Scaglion, 2020, Tribal Art No. 96, pp. 42-49. 

The Stars Are Eyes: A New Perspective on the Art of the Abelam, Marc Assayag, Montreal: Marc Assayag, 2019.

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