House plank

DATE:
collected 1888
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Wood and pigment
CLASSIFICATION:
Architectural elements
DIMENSIONS:
Overall: 84 3/8 x 15 1/2 x 4 13/16 in. (2 m 14.313 cm x 39.37 cm x 12.225 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of the Pacific Islands
LOCATION:
Arts of the Pacific Islands - Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, Level 3
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, The Roberta Coke Camp Fund
COPYRIGHT:
Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art
OBJECT NUMBER:
1975.5

General Description

On the east coast of Papua New Guinea, the land adjacent to the Huon Gulf and the small Tami Islands offshore form a distinctive Melanesian style area. The treatment of the human figure, which appears on architectural elements, neckrests, and ladles as well as free-standing sculpture, distinguishes objects in the Huon Gulf style: the forms are bold and blocky; incised lines provide detail; and human figures are invariably neckless, the head placed low on the chest, supported by hunched shoulders.

This panel was probably part of a men's ceremonial house (lum), which was closely associated with the ritual that accompanied a boy's initiation into manhood and participation in the religious life of the group. The depiction of a serpent or fish between the legs of many Huon Gulf figures may refer to a legend about a sea spirit that comes ashore in human form to seduce young men and women, who die as a result of the encounter.

Excerpt from

DMA Label text.

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