Ancestor figure, staff, 1903

About the object

A finely crafted seated figure known as a yene adorns this wooden staff, which tapers to a point at the bottom. The symmetrically carved representation of an ancestor is wearing a prominent headdress, symbolising the high status of the deceased family member.
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The graceful seated figure crowns the staff. The face and arms have been carved in fine detail. Adorned with chip carving, the prominent headdress, a symbol of status and authority, and the pedestal are reminiscent of the style from the island of Leti. It was believed that such ancestor figures made by specialised carvers would be »occupied« after death by the shadows of the deceased, who later went to the »ancestor village« in the land of the dead. They were kept on a special board in the house and received offerings of food and were consulted on important matter by the bereaved. The geologist and palaeontologist, Georg Boehm brought back numerous objects from a research trip, including 45 Moluccan ancestor figures. He presented them to the museum as a permanent loan, which later became a gift when the heiress to his son's estate, Ruth Leuschner changed their status.

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