Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Welcome to the Spencer Collection

ancestor figure
  • unknown maker from Papua New Guinea
  • ancestor figure, late 1800s–1965
  • Where object was made: Maprik Mountain, Papua New Guinea
  • wood, paint, carving
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: 179.5 x 28 x 8.5 cm
    Object Height/Width/Depth: 70 5/8 x 11 x 3 3/8 in
  • Gift from the Menninger Foundation
  • Not on display
  • 2007.4189

The tall thin sculpture of an ancestor figure is heavily painted in red, yellow, black and white. At the top is a rounded section that is painted in red and black with white stripes on the sides. On the facing right side there is a red painted projection which is likely broken off and there may have been a similar one on the facing left side. It's possible that it was a bird figure and only the lower part of the body is left. Below that is the face of the figure, which is painted yellow with black features, as well as black on the forehead and around the mouth. The face is also decorated with red lines and white dots. The torso is decorated with red, black and white designs and the arms hang down by the sides. At the bottom of the figure is a large base which is largely uncarved but is painted with elaborate designs of leaves and scroll patterns in all four colors.