Description & Technical information

An exceptionally early and superbly carved food stirrer. The ancestor figure on the finial is carved in a rare archaic style with the elongated (or deformed ?) skull, a raised crest and a grinning mouth showing the teeth. The arms are held bent at the elbows with the curled stylized hands held high to the front (one missing) which may represent the praying mantis. While the artist here remains yet to be identified it is absolutely certain that a Master-Carver of distinction carved this art work. There are very few recorded objects in this archaic style in public and privat collections. Massim Area, Papua New Guinea. Kwila wood with a superb patina of age and use. 63,2 cm. 19th century or earlier and carved with neolithic tools.

Provenance: Acquired at Christie's, New York, New York, Nov. 4, 1994, lot 53 (miss-identified as Cenderawashi Bay lime spatula) ; Galerie Meyer, Paris; Marcia & John Friede, the JOLIKA collection, Rye, New York ; Bruce Frank, New York.

Harry Beran had made a sketch of it from memory on the last page of a catalogue noting the "crest" and the "outstanding quality" of the object.
Categories: Works of Art