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Finely carved prow for a May River canoe, Upper Sepik. (VAI)

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The May and April rivers are important tributaries of the upper Sepik. and flow into it close to its source the Western Highlands. The area is so isolated that it was not actually pacified and patrolled by the PNG administration until the 1950s, and there were still cannibals active in the region in the mid-195os.

May River canoes are distinguished by their ornate hardwood.prows. These the take the form of crocodiles, very ornately carved and painted in specifically upper Sepik patterns.

The interior of the prow is hollowed out and I presume this is to reduce the weight in the front of the canoe so that is it is heavier at the back, which stabilises it in the water.

This elegantly carved example, with excellent surviving pigments, depicts a crocodile head with prominent eyes and nostrils. Dimensions 94 x 17 x 10 cm / 37 x 6.5 x 4 inches

Price: 650.00 AUD
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