Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Welcome to the Spencer Collection

ancestor board
  • unknown maker from Papua New Guinea
  • ancestor board, late 1800s–1965
  • Where object was made: Turama River, Papua New Guinea
  • wood, pigment, carving
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: 104 x 25 x 5 cm
    Object Height/Width/Depth: 40 15/16 x 9 13/16 x 1 15/16 in
  • Gift from the Menninger Foundation
  • Not on display
  • 2007.4188

The tall, narrow ancestor board flares out to a point on either side and is flat at the top and bottom. The front of the board is carved in low relief and the recessed portions are filled with pigment. Near one end is a stylized human face with large eyes and nose, and below that are two lines of waves, with the waves pointed toward the outer edges. The proper right side of the face and the waves are filled with white pigment, and the proper left side of the face and outside of the waves is filled with red pigment. At the top of the head is a line of small triangles filled with alternating red and white pigment and above that the board is uncarved. At the top of that end is a hole carved through the wood. The back of the board is undecorated.