Papua New Guinea Skull Rack

New Guinea Map

This reproduction of a traditional skull rack from the Angoram Village in the Sepik River region, Papua New Guinea, was donated to the Anthropology Department by James Hummel in 2010.

Attached to the main posts of the men’s ceremonial house, skull racks were once adorned with the skulls of slain enemies. After the 1920’s, skulls of one’s ancestors, over-modeled with clay, were hung with offerings such as betel nuts and shell money. These ritual maintained the connection with the spirits of one’s ancestors and thus with the powers of the other world. The bark painting represents a ‘wagen,’ or ancestor, spirit.

Medium: Carved Wood, Sago Palm Spathe, Cowrie, Shells, & Raffia Grass

60” x 60” x 7”

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