Abelam Figure-New Guinea Art-Oceanic Art This elegant Abelam figure carving is a bit of an enigma. While stylistically I know exactly where this originates—in that far southern Abelam area where it brushes up against their western neighbors the Ilahita Arapesh—I cannot say for sure what was its original function. Its concave backside and two holes below the face suggest it was lashed to something rounded like a long yam. But it could also be an ancestral spirit figure used in male initiation. I know Brigitta Hauser-Schaublin illustrates a few of these in her wonderful book “Leben in Linie Muster und Farbe.” Maybe one of you German speakers can enlighten me to what she says about them. Either way this is a very fine older example. I am really taken by the refined perfection of the face with its rounded form, tiny eyes and minimalized features. It is a real beauty. The piece dates to the early/mid 20th century, stands 28” (71.1 cm) in height and comes from the estate of Susan Pines in New York City.