Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Welcome to the Spencer Collection

maira-ndu (double ancestor figure)
  • unknown Abelam maker
  • maira-ndu (double ancestor figure), 1850s–1969
  • Where object was made: Roma Mission, East Sepik, Papua New Guinea
  • wood, pigment, carving
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: 205 x 23 x 19 cm
    Object Height/Width/Depth: 80 11/16 x 9 1/16 x 7 1/2 in
  • Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Franklin D. Murphy
  • Not on display
  • 1977.0031
Label Text

Column-like element, decorated with carved human-like faces at either end, oriented in opposite directions. The top face has the heads of two birds, possibly hornbills, above it. The pigment is no longer visible, except for the black eyes. The human face is predominanty white with a white starburst-like headdress that continues to the bottom of the face, terminating in a beard-like projection.
The face at the other end of the piece has the same shape for the face and headdress, but appears to be undecorated. The space between the faces is filled with a number of pointed projections. From the top:
Two cone-like points under the face decorated with white lines that do not appear to depict anything.
Single conical point, on the top face's right
Two hooked projections, directed up, decorated with a base of orange and yellow with a white starburst like outline
Circular element in the middle, concave and solid white.
Two sets of conical points with traces of yellow and white pigment
Pair of two hook-like projections, directed up. Decorated with a white and yellow plaid.
Single, centrally placed white conical projection between center sets of hook-like projections.
Pair of hook-like projections, pointed downward, also decorated with a white and yellow plaid, though less remains.
Pair of small conical points with yellow and white pigment
Pair of slightly larger conical points, traces of white pigment but not enough to determine the design
Pair of hook-like projections, right next to second face's "beard." These appear to be undecorated.
Two more pair of undecorated projections "above" the second head, at the bottom of the column. Two ear-like and two conical.