Collection: Guy Spilers/Rene Van den Berghe (further information below)
This striking and impressive carving from the Casuarina Coast is one of the best Male and Female Ancestor Figure carvings I have seen in a long time. It is simply exquisite. These figures are kept inside the house and are effigies of dead ancestors whose spirits protect the house and people. The male poised with his hands on the females shoulders (likely his wife). Incised lines filled with lime ochres cover the piece to further enhance this stunning carving. The female ancestor figure has one leg slightly bent with one hand on her knee, the male figure hand of top of her shoulders and standing on two birds head, likely representing the Birds of Paradise (birds of god). Overall, the form is stunning, very decorative and also very rare to find one of such quality. This rare and unique one of a kind old ancestor spirit figure would be a wonderful addition to your collection. It is a stunning collectors pieces. Comes with custom stand.
The main Asmat creation myth is about the creator being Fumeripitjs who was lonely so he carved figures from wood and then he made a drum, when he played the drum the carved wood figures came to life and that is how the first Asmat people were created. For the Asmat the connection between trees and people are profound. Humans, trees, and wood sculpture are inseparably linked in the cosmology of the Asmat people of southwest New Guinea. The human body is equated metaphysically with a tree: the legs and feet are the roots, the torso the trunk, the arms and hands the branches, and the head the fruit. In some origin traditions, humanity was born from wood figures carved by a primordial being named Fumeripits. Fumeripits built the first men’s ceremonial house, but he grew lonesome living alone, so he cut down trees and carved them into human figures for company. The lifeless figures did not relieve his loneliness, so he made a drum. As he drummed, the figures slowly came to life, becoming the first Asmat. Almost all human images in Asmat art depict recent ancestors, whose names they bear. Freestanding ancestor figures such as this one were created in some areas for ceremonies celebrating the inauguration of a new men’s ceremonial house. During the rites, performers reenacted the origin of humanity, dancing with intentional awkwardness to simulate the movements of the first humans as they were gradually brought to life by Fumeripits's drumming.
Close friends, Rene Vanden Berghe and Guy Spilers found themselves living a life of adventure they sought out and embraced. Born in Belgium just prior to WWII, they spent their youth under German occupation. After the war, the adventures continued with National Service in 1953-54 serving in an elite battalion: the para-commando platoon. After military service was over, Rene studied tropical agriculture and used a government grant to start a coffee plantation in the Belgian Congo where he only escaped by “the skin of his teeth” when he had to flee during the Lumumba Insurrection in 1961. He and Guy then emigrated to Australia where they secured employment as overseers for the Catholic Church Mission in New Ireland – running a plantation from 1962-72. Their knowledge, diligence and military training saw the plantation prosper despite tribal fights, earthquakes, riots and the occasional confrontation with axe and knife-wielding workers. Their practical skills were balanced by a love of art, photography and travel. A talented amateur photographer, Rene left an extensive collection of photographs of their experiences and travels. After leaving the plantation they traveled throughout Melanesia, French Polynesia and Micronesia, Europe, Asia and South America before settling in Nambour on the Sunshine Coast. They collected tribal art pieces throughout their travels to inspire Rene’s love of painting and sculpture.
- Pictures make up part of the description -