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Art-Pacific (Carolyn Leigh - Ron Perry): Guide to Artifacts

Middle Ramu River Carvings, Madang Province, Papua New Guinea

[hunt charm: 14k]

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Little is published on the Middle Ramu River region and stylistic areas are blurred. Dirk Smidt identified 5 linguistic groups: Rao, Breri, Banaro, Akrukay and Romkun. Carving styles that most frequently appear on the market seem to be from the following general locations based on our own collecting.

[Thin wood statue with long phallic nose: 5k]

Figure 1: Typical Minias Village hunting charm. These small figure carvings are carried by men in their bilums.

Figure 2: Typical elongated Wokam Village figure which may represent a half-human/half-eagle ancestor. Notice the similarities with the squatter Keram River figure from Minias Village.

Wokam Village, Ramu River and Minias Village, Keram River

[bilum: 9k]

Minias figures from the Keram River are often referred to as Ramu figures because they are traded over and down the Ramu River. There are stylistic and probably linguistic connections with the Ramu villages.

Figure 3: Initiated man's bilum (sikam pass) from Dakit Village at the mouth of the Moem River.

The string in this net bag (bilum) is made from the inner bark of the tulif tree (timbak) and decorated with Job's tears (sican). It is probably worn by the men during ceremonies (sing sings).

Misingi (Misinki) Village

[figure misingi: 8k]

Figure 4:Finely carved Misingi figure with opposing pointed projections.

[Wood statue of 3 scooped out faces: 6k]

The catalogue for the Seized Collections says these projections are typical of the Breri language group. We have also seen this concentric-hook style in a male-female pair from the Guam River. What we have collected ourselves and have seen offered for sale in PNG has come from Misingi Village in the Rao linguistic area.

Figure 5: Statue with 3 flute mask-style faces, possibly collected on the Guam (Goam) River.

We have seen pieces like this one that resemble Chungrebu Village carvings and others with projection points like Misingi Village carvings attributed to the Guam River villages.

Chungrebu Village

[Delicate oval mask: 5k]

Figure 6: Flute mask with white lime and red ochre paint.

These small masks are tied to bamboo flutes during ceremonies. The flute may be the voice of the mask.

[Moon-shaped mask: 14k]

Figure 7: So called "moon masks" from Chungrebu Village with white lime and red ochre pigment. The name is used by dealers and refers only to the shape, not to any cultural context. They may be used during men's initiation ceremonies.

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[Map of the Lower and Middle Ramu River, Mandang Province, PNG: 8k]


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Diary entry, 1997: Ramu and Minias carvings

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More articles/photos of NEW GUINEA MASKS:

Middle Sepik River | Angoram | Kambaramba | Tambanum | Hunstein | Imbando and Taway | Mumeri | Blackwater River | Lower Ramu River | Middle Ramu River | basket yam masks | wooden yam masks | Baining | Sulka | Tolai dukduk | Malagan | Papuan Gulf | Gogodala | String and Things | Skin as Ground... | more INDONESIAN MASKS: Bali and Java | Dyak

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Order now: Art Dealer in the Last Unknown, Ron Perry and New Guinea Art, the early years: 1964 - 1973 by Carolyn Leigh and Ron Perry, 320 pages of adventure, over 450 early photographs - join Ron in the jungles of New Guinea on his search for tribal art.


Melanesian art TOC | Map of art areas of Melanesia
Papua New Guinea: Highlands: body art - Bundi tapa - jewelry/dancers | Karawari and Blackwater Rivers: masks - carvings - map | Massim: artifacts- Trobriand Kula - map | Kula canoe | New Britain: Baining - Sulka - Tolai dukduk | New Ireland: Malagan | Ramu River: masks - carvings - map | Sepik River: masks - carvings - villages - map | Papuan Gulf: masks - carvings - map - Gogodala - Kukukuku
other areas: Asmat | Solomon Islands: crafts - jewelry - map
art and craft:
barkcloth (tapa) | body art | cane and fiber figures | canoes and prows | jewelry/dancers | masks - Middle Sepik | phallocrypts | pottery - Chambri | shields | story boards | suspension hooks | weapons | yam masks - fiber | yam masks - wood

Indonesian art TOC | Dyak baby carriers and masks | furniture | Java folk art | Lombok baskets | Lombok lontar boxes | masks from Bali and Java | puppets

China: Bai textiles/art TOC | baby carriers | baby hats | woodblock prints

Collecting New Guinea art in the field since 1964.

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Artifacts on this site were collected in the field by my husband, Ron Perry. I take the photographs, do the html, text and maps. Background in Who We Are. Art-Pacific has been on the WWW since 1996. We hope you enjoy our New Guinea tribal art and Indonesian folk art as much as we do. by Carolyn Leigh is licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-ND 4.0