Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Welcome to the Spencer Collection

wabinyan (female figure)
  • unknown Abelam maker
  • wabinyan (female figure), 1900s–1969
  • Where object was made: Maprik, East Sepik, Papua New Guinea
  • wood, pigment, carving
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: 148 x 33 x 13 cm
    Object Height/Width/Depth: 58 1/4 x 13 x 5 1/8 in
  • Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Franklin D. Murphy
  • Not on display
  • 1977.0027

Sculpture of a stylized female figure. The figure has a large oval shaped head near the center of the sculpture. There is a thin wedge shape that goes vertically down the forehead and is colored with black pigment. There are half-circle shaped eyebrows, small protruding round eyes, a long thin nose and small mouth. Down the length of the nose and in a triangular shape coming out from the nose is black pigment, as well as a circular black shape around the mouth. The eyebrows and eyes are also black. At the top of the head is a rounded ridge. Above that, extending from the top of the head is a large shape that resembles a fish tail. On either side of that are two hornbill birds facing toward each other. Each bird has a long thick beak, a circular shape on their sides, and carved lines on the forehead. Both birds are partially decorated with black pigment. Protruding out to the sides from the figure's neck are two long, curved, serrated projections pointed upward. The figure's torso is very small compared to the head. The figure's arms are bent at the elbows and point upward. The figure has exaggerated labia. Around the arms and legs there are numerous pointed projections facing both up and down, as well as vertical column shapes. At the bottom is a small, undecorated base.