Abelam bark painting

Abelam peoples, Papua New Guinea
20th century
Artist Unidentified, Pacific Islander

Object Place: Papua New Guinea


Overall: 150 x 79 cm (59 1/16 x 31 1/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

bark, paint

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art



The Abelam of the Sepik region of Papua New Guinea are known for their bark paintings. This flat painting may represent an nggwalndu, an ancestor spirit. The arms and legs are typically represented with W or M forms and pointed ovals are used to render the head. Various iconographic symbols associated with the nggwalndu may also be incorporated into the painting.


Geneviève McMillan (b. 1922 - d. 2008), Cambridge, MA; 2008, to the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation, Cambridge; 2009, gift of the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 17, 2009)

Credit Line

Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart