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Ancestral Figure (Korwar)

Arts of the Pacific Islands

Korwar figures serve to keep surviving relatives in contact with their deceased ancestors and thus always able to secure their powerful blessings. They serve as a medium of communication between the living and the dead. Korwars may be standing or squatting figures. The heads are large in relation to the highly abstract bodies; the chin is usually straight, horizontal, and broad; and the nose is the most prominent facial feature. This highly unusual double figure holds a shield (now partially eroded). The shield has been said to derive from the snake, which in turn represents rejuvenation and regeneration, a key idea in the religion of the people of Cenderawasih Bay.
MEDIUM Wood
GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATIONS
DATES early 20th century
DIMENSIONS 8 3/4 x 6 x 5 1/4 in. (22.2 x 15.2 x 13.3 cm)  (show scale)
INSCRIPTIONS La Korrigaine expedition marking, D.39.3/1018
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
ACCESSION NUMBER 62.18.2
CREDIT LINE Frank L. Babbott Fund
RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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CAPTION Ancestral Figure (Korwar), early 20th century. Wood, 8 3/4 x 6 x 5 1/4 in. (22.2 x 15.2 x 13.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Frank L. Babbott Fund, 62.18.2. Creative Commons-BY
IMAGE 3/4, CUR.62.18.2_threequarter_print_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Korwar (mortuary figure). Carving is that of two figures, male and female, holding a stylized snake, each figure with one arm on a snake and the other arm on the free arm of the other figure. Male figure wears a tiny cap on top of his head. Condition: completely worm eaten around lower section. Top is in good condition.
RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (87%)
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