Male Figure (Aripa), 16th–early 19th century
Inyai–Ewa people, Korewori River, Middle Sepik region, Papua New Guinea
Wood, paint; H. 46 1/2 in. (118 cm)
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Purchase, Nelson A. Rockefeller Gift, 1967 (1978.412.1508)
With its brooding expression and stylized single leg with a protruding, peglike knee, this aripa figure captures the otherworldly quality of the helping spirit it represents. Carved by an artist of the Inyai-Ewa people of the upper Korewori River in New Guinea, the figure shares a number of stylistic features with others of its type. These include a prominent face, a central section depicting what are possibly internal organs, and a single leg. Within these conventions, however, the carver had free reign to depict the idiosyncratic anatomical features that characterized this particular spirit. Among the Inyai-Ewa, each man owned such a figure. Kept in the men's ceremonial house, the figure served as a vessel that contained the power of his individual helping spirit who aided him in the hunt.