Male Figure (Aripa)

Date: 16th–19th century

Geography: Papua New Guinea, Middle Sepik, Korewari River region

Culture: Inyai-Ewa people

Medium: Wood, paint

Dimensions: H. 54 x W. 5 x D. 6 in. (137.2 x 12.7 x 15.2 cm)

Classification: Wood-Sculpture

Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Purchase, Nelson A. Rockefeller Gift, 1967

Accession Number: 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.