Height 85 cm
Bahiemo people, Hunstein Mts, Upper Sepik River, PNG
Provenance: Ex-Kevin Truman, Wewak, PNG. 1960s
“Garra” figures are abstracted mask forms, with opposing hooks above and below the mask in similar style to the famous “yipwon” figures of the Karawari River. There are elements of bird ancestors and also magic spears. The two perforated “eyes” were sometimes considered to be eyes but could also be interpreted as “nipples”. These mask-like forms were essentially considered to be gods by the Bahiemo people. They were always carved from a heavy hardwood, so would last for many generations.
They were stored in the Men’s Ceremonial House and were never seen by women. They were used in ceremonies performed by initiated men.