Art-Pacific Home | Site map | Guide to Artifacts > New Guinea Artifacts > Guide to Sepik River Carvings > Sepik River meri carvings

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

Sepik River meri carvings, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea

buy New Guinea figures from and

Figure 1: Sepik River meri figure with traditional clan face painting from Tambanum Village, ESP, PNG.

[Sepik carving of primal woman with spread arms and legs, Tambanum Village clan painting on her face: 15k]

This style of Sepik River female figure is originally from Yenichenmangua Village.(1) Their carvings are usually plainer with no body painting. Tambanum Village carvers recently began making this primal woman. They often decorate her with their clan designs. One version has bat wings.

She is sometimes referred to as hewe-meri or two-kina meri because of her split-leg stance, but she is actually a protector of women. Her traditional name varies from village to village depending on the language group. She is said to have great protective power over women. If she sees a man abusing a women, she can turn him into woman. People will tell of hearing a story where this actually happened in the recent past.

Powerful female figures are common in clan stories. Many creation stories feature a woman who gives birth to the first members of the clan. She often discovers, or is given by a spirit animal or bird, the knowledge and tools that the villagers will need to survive in the jungle. A typical saying is that women had the power or discovered the knowledge, but the men took it from them.

The men's Haus Tambarans on the Sepik River are said to be female. One end gable frequently has a large split-leg carving of a powerful female ancestor figure as part of the roof beam supports.


buy New Guinea art from and

back to Guide to Sepik River Carvings

Browse Sepik River villages - Middle Sepik: Aibom | Chambri Lakes | Kamindimbit | Kandangai | Kanganaman | Koiwat and Kamangauwi | Korogo | Mindimbit | Mumeri | Palambei | Tambanum | Yamok | Yentchan | Yenichenmangua | see also Karawari and Blackwater Rvs | above Pagwi: Ambunti Mtns (Waskuk) | Hunstein | Japandai | near Angoram and below: Angoram | Imbando and Taway | Kambaramba | see also Ramu Rv

[Map of the middle length of the Sepik River, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea: 9k]

Order art on-line: dealers and galleries
Wholesale information for dealers

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.

[New Guinea art logo] | Contact Us | Art-Pacific at

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