Upper Sepik Polychrome Wood Painted Spirit Mask Yena

14324. Upper Sepik Polychrome Wood Painted Spirit Mask Yena

Papua New Guinea 20th Century

Carved abstractly in wood and with earth pigments of red white and ash. This culture share a unique art tradition associated with a religious cult centered on the cultivation of yams. Totemic spiritis such as this one are created for the yena harvest ritual. Depicted with prominent eyes and noses, yena heads represent ancient and powerful spirits. During the ritual, village men assemble a pile of yams within the ceremonial house. The long pole-like bases of the yena are inserted into the yam pile; in this case the yams were most likely attached to the spiky protrusions on the back. The head is decorated with bright colors, leaves, feathers, and other ornaments. Sizes 30 inches H.+ custom mount. Good condition. Provenance: Ex Collection of Dr. Edward A. Spiegel (1931—2020) Professor of astronomy at New York University and Columbia University who worked on convection theory and on the application of fluid dynamics to astrophysics and was the first to discover Chaos Theory. As a professor, he gained a reputation among his students for his amusing stories of meeting other famous scientists such as Paul Dirac and Stephen Hawking.


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