bis pole, mangrove wood, New Guinea, Asmat

Bis Pole, 20th century

Wood, pigmentexpand_more

The Putnam Dana McMillan Fundexpand_more  74.79.1


This is a ritual bis pole created to honor a recently deceased, important member of society. The family commissions an artist to carve a pole out of a single piece of wild nutmeg tree, representing clan members who have passed on. Its shape evokes a canoe, the main mode of transportation for the living and the dead, and a vehicle to take the spirit to the next world. The pole is displayed at a great community ceremony and a mock battle is staged around its base to appease any restless spirits. Then it is ritually disposed of, its purpose complete.



Bis Pole, Asmat (#203)
Bis Pole
Accession Number
Curator Approved

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bis pole, mangrove wood, New Guinea, Asmat