19th–20th century

Object Place: Turama River Delta, Papuan Gulf, Papua New Guinea


123.19 cm (48 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood, pigment

On View

Arts of Asia, Oceania, and Africa Gallery (Gallery 177)


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art



The human figure, a common motif throughout the Gulf of Papua region, is seldom rendered naturalistically and usually occurs in relief carvings. An exception are rare three-dimensional human forms such as this one, which artists of the Turamarubi peoples fashioned from the fork of a tree into a shape that precluded arms. The long, flexed legs support a sloped-shouldered torso and a small head with carved features. Pigment emphasizes the triangular eyes and defines the mouth and necklace. This figure was probably associated with the yearly moguru ceremonies that ushered youths into adulthood.


1966, collected in Kerewa village, Papua New Guinea by Thomas Schultze Westrum, Munich [see note]. Private collection, The Netherlands. September 27, 1980, sold by Wayne Heathcote Gallery, Paddington, N.S.W., Australia, to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1992, partial gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA; 2014, acquired fully with the bequest of William Teel to the MFA. (Accession Dates: June 30, 1992 and February 26, 2014)

NOTE: Provenance information was provided by the dealer at the time of the Teels' purchase in 1980.

Credit Line

Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel