MANA – dans l’Oeuvre, la Puissance

Posted by Anthony Meyer | February 9, 2023 | Anthony Meyer news, News
Porapora and Keram river system, Lower Sepik River, PNG, MelanesiaAncestor sculpture

Wood, cane and traces of pigment with a very weathered and aged patina. There is old cotton and various refuse in the cavity behind the mask.
88,5 cm.
19th/20th century.
Ex Rosalind & Philip Goldman, Gallery 43, London.

Additional information:
This type of transformational anthro-zoomorphic representation of a human ancestor and a crocodile has an added mask over a hollowed head and can only be related to the Maro skull-figures of the Porapora and Keram rivers systems in the Lower region of the Sepik River. These amazing skull-support figures, or Maro representing the great ancestors, have a vertical hollowed bowl at the head to which is bound the front (or facial part) of the person’s skull. This “face” is later over-modeled with clay and often painted.
This enigmatic, masked figure seems to be unique; no other examples are recorded and while obviously old and well used its exact function cannot be ascertained with precision.

North Coast to Murik Lakes, Lower Sepik, PNG, Melanesia.Headrest

Wood with red ocher and a fine patina of wear and age.
13 x 11 cm.
19th century.
Ex private collection, Germany. Ex coll. Laurent Granier, France.
Price on request

Additional information:
Headrest supported by three caryatid human figures and a separate human head.
This is a very unusual configuration and possibly represents the arms as wings relating further to the pointed faces of the ancestors and the symbiotic relationship between man and the clan emblems here represented by the flying-fox. The singular head is carved attached both to the upper and lower section of the object serving as a further support. Several other headrests by the same hand (or workshop) are recorded in various public institution collections in Amsterdam, Berlin, Terveuren, and Brooklyn.

Santo Island, Vanuatu, Melanesia.Ceremonial food bowl

Hard wood with its original patina of age and use.
85,5 x 29,5 x 7 cm.
19th century or earlier and carved with non-metal tools
Reportedly from the collection formed by the Rossi family around the turn of the 19th to 20th century in Vanuatu. Recorded as sold to Paul Gardissat circa 1960’s and said to be from the Gardissart collection, Vanuatu (information supplied by Jean Louis Roiseux); acquired by Galerie Meyer Oceanic Art from Koos Knol, Holland; sold to David Rosenthal, San Francisco.

Additional information:
A dish of this quality and size would be the prize possession of a Big Man – a man of high grade in the structure of the secret societies on Santo Island – and used for the consumption of laplap or nalot, vegetarian puddings.
The shallow bowl represents a highly stylized human figure yet at the same time a pig. The finial with its two curved arms represents a stylized pig jaw with the large, curved tusks standing outward. Curved tusks, most going full circle, were a major form of currency in Vanuatu and are of great value. The cobblestone effect on the tip of the finial is related to several architectural elements – notably the tops of the main house posts – which are part of the great nakamal (ceremonial meeting or cult house) near Talamacco on Santo.