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20th C. Papua New Guinea Asmat Wooden Sago Pounder

Oceania, Western Papua, northwestern Irian Jaya, Manep Village, Asmat peoples, ca. mid-20th century CE. A beautiful, hand-carved wooden pounder used in the process of extracting the spongy center, or pith, of various tropical palm stems, in this case the sago plant. The pounder sports a lengthy and lightly-curved handle which has a stylized anthropomorphic head as a pommel. The handle widens gradually to a thick shoulder adorned with scrawling curvilinear ancestral motifs, with a thick pounding head on the short end - similarly decorated with a stylized face - and a smooth beak-like projection on the long end. Covered in lustrous brown patina, this is a fabulous example of utilitarian Asmat artistry! Size: 34.25" L x 20.75" W (87 cm x 52.7 cm); 25.5" H (64.8 cm) on included custom stand.

Condition: Small chips and minor fissures to beak, head, shoulder, and handle, with softening to some carved details, and light abrasions, otherwise intact and very good. Light earthen deposits and fabulous patina throughout.

Provenance: private Newport Beach, California, USA collection

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