Offering a rare, vintage wood carving from Papua New Guinea, Irian Jaya, of the Asmat people. This amazing piece measures just under 4 1/2 feet in length and is 8" in height.
The subject of this wood carving sculpture seems to be five men, or perhaps baboons, seated on the ground, having a tug of war with a dog. The dog is gripping a rope in his teeth and the five men / baboons, are lined up one behind the other, trying to pull it away from him.
The figures have bracelets and long earrings of tiny seeds or shells bound together with odd bits of string, including dried sago palm leaf. They also have tiny feathers in their hair. The dog also has earrings and a necklace. One figure even has a small woven grass leg band. It's an amusing work of art.
I don't know what kind of wood this is. There is no major damage. One of the figures is missing the feather in his ear, but I don't even know if he originally had one. Another one is missing an earring on the reverse side of the carving, all the others have earrings on both sides. There is the beginning of separation on the wood at one juncture: the third figure from the dog. Just where his elbow meets the back of the second figure is a piece of fancy carving and it has come away just a bit from the curve of the back. Apart from the aforementioned, there is no damage that I can see.
My great aunt worked as a missionary in Indonesia and spent some time in Papua New Guinea with the Asmat. She has passed away and this souvenir was in her storage along with a Cassowary leg bone knife and a grass dress.
I saw a carving very similar to this one in PNG, in a museum display on the Asmat people.