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Ambunti Mountains (Waskuk Hills)

Art-Pacific (Carolyn Leigh - Ron Perry): Guide to Sepik River Carvings

Ambunti Mountains (Waskuk Hills), East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea

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[Upper Sepik River hand drum from Swagup Village: 28k]

[Mindja: 8k]

Different cultural groups inhabit the Upper Sepik and its tributaries. Many live in scattered settlements with limited material culture. Some, like the Hunstein, carve a variation of the Sepik-Ramu concentric hook figures and masks. Others, like the Swagup Village carvers, developed a distinct style.

Figure 1: Hand drum (kundu) from Swagup Village.

Yam ceremony figures from the Kwoma and the Nukuma in the Ambunti Mountains (Waskuk Hills) are the best known. Both are yam-based cultures, unlike the sago-based cultures of the Middle Sepik. The annual yam cycle uses three terms to refer to the complex rituals and to the objects and social groups associated with them. Yina, Mindja and Nogwi carvings are linked with their respective ceremonies which take place in the Haus Tambarans after the yam harvest. Pottery with similar motifs is also made for use during these rituals.

Figure 2: The Mindja are often displayed in pairs during the harvest ceremonies. The looped area below the face represents spears or snakes.

[Female nogwi figure: 10k]

Figure 3: The Yena (Yina) face represents a male or female spirit. It has a mounting stake.

[Yina: 7k]

Figure 4: The Nogwi figure represents a powerful female spirit in the final, most scared of the three ceremonies held after the yam harvest.

See also: Upper Sepik River Shields in our Guide to Artifacts

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Browse Sepik River villages - Middle Sepik: Aibom | Chambri Lakes | Kamindimbit | Kandangai | Kanganaman | Koiwat and Kamangauwi | Korogo | Mindimbit | Mumeri | Palambei | Tambanum | Yamok | Yentchan | Yenichenmangua | see also Karawari and Blackwater Rvs | above Pagwi: Ambunti Mtns (Waskuk) | Hunstein | Japandai | near Angoram and below: Angoram | Imbando and Taway | Kambaramba | see also Ramu Rv

[Map of the middle length of the Sepik River, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea: 9k]

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Collecting New Guinea art in the field since 1964.

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Photographs, text and maps copyright © Carolyn Leigh, 1996-2011. All rights reserved.
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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/