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Figure 1: Angoram area clan mask with woven edge and cassowary feather tuffs.
Angoram is outside the Middle Sepik, but many of the carvers live in this regional administrative center. After WW2, the Australian government gave plots of land to men from the East Sepik Province who had fought for the Allies. This area just upstream from Angoram is known as the Service Camp. Other groups of people from the Sepik villages live in the Gavien Resettlement Project rubber plantation on the road out from Wewak.
The original Angoram Haus Tambaran was built by local returning service men as a place to meet, carve and sell their work. Every village contributed to its construction with carvings in their traditional style. In the 1980s, a second Haus was still a beautiful, busy place with carvers from the Sepik and its tributaries showing their work.
Figure 2: Angoram area clan mask with clay-based colors and woven edge, raffia tassels in ears.
The National Museum gave a grant to do repairs, but the money went missing and that Haus collapsed. The newest one is not much more than a big, thatched haus win (large ramada) and many carvers won't show their work there because of the controversy regarding the money. However, Angoram is still an excellent place to find work from many villages from all over the East Sepik Province.
The typical Angoram clan mask is large and dark-colored. More recent masks are adding color while retaining the basic Lower Sepik feel of the design, especially in the shape of the nose.
The daily Angoram Market is a good place to see the produce available on the Sepik. In season, there are tasty kindams (crayfish) and watermelons along with the usual dried and fresh fish, and saksak (sago).
When Angoram women sit and talk, they work on a bilum (string bag), some bilas (seed and shell jewelry) or one of the small fiber figures which they sell when the tour boat docks or the odd tourist turns up on a PMV from Wewak.
Figure 3: Detail of a Billy Kiten style mask with a central blakbokis (fruit bat, flying fox) motif.
Billy Kiten had a dream which served as the inspiration for this detailed style of carving. It is very popular with the Angoram carvers. When a man dreams, he may create a new style or image from what he saw. Usually the first of these pieces is given an elaborate party by the carver. He must then recoup the price of throwing the party with the sale of that piece. If he sells it for less, he loses face. When we find an artifact priced in the thousands of dollars, and the carver will not bargain, it usually means that he has given a party for it.
Figure 4: Billy Kiten style of large mask/figure.
See also in our Guide to Artifacts:
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Artifacts on this site are collected in the field by my husband, Ron Perry. I take the photographs, do the html, text and maps. More background in Who We Are. Art-Pacific has been on the WWW since 1996. We hope you enjoy our New Guinea tribal art and Indonesian folk art as much as we do. Carolyn Leigh, P.O. Box 85284, Tucson, AZ 85754-5284 USA, Art-Pacific at http://www.art-pacific.com/