Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Ancestor Board (Yamate)

mid-20th century
Indonesia, Papua Province (Irian Jaya)
Kamoro (Mimika) people
Wood, paint
H. 64 3/8 x W. 17 1/4 x D. 1 3/4 in. (163.5 x 43.8 x 4.5 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 354
Much of the art of the Kamoro people of southwest New Guinea centers on ceremonies and wood carvings that honor the spirits of individuals who have recently died. The present work is likely a Kamoro ancestor board (yamate). Portraying recently deceased ancestors, yamate were primarily created during the emakame, a complex ritual honoring the dead and celebrating the renewal of life.
A pivotal event in the emakame was the revealing of a group of yamate, each of which represented a specific deceased person, whose name it bore. Some yamate were also used on festive occasions as ornaments on the prows of canoes.
Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen, Amsterdam, Holland, until 1961; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1961, on permanent loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1961–1978

Kjellgren, Eric. Oceania: Art of the Pacific Islands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007, 8, 37-8.

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