Inland Ramu River Stone Amulet Figure-New Guinea Art-Oceanic Art
Pre-historic figurative stone artifacts from Papua New Guinea are exceedingly rare and within that small corpus this is the first small amulet figure I have encountered. It comes from the hilly area inland of Madang Province’s western coast toward the border with East Sepik Province. It is of the size handy to carry about in a man’s string “billum” bag as he travelled outside his own village—always a fraught experience back four or five generations ago. Whether the figure’s use was protective or maybe even for love it is hard to say. But sculpturally the piece is powerful with an oversized head resting directly on its chest. The eyes are circular and account for much of the face besides a wide nose with pierced septum. The arms reach around a robust torso but are unable to meet. Legs are only hinted at as the body tapers off to a rounded base. There is a lug on the back for suspension. On a figurative stone object, the lug might suggest a use in fishing but most early wooden figures from the area also had lugs carved into the back. The piece is pre-historic, stands a diminutive 3 3/8” (8.5 cm) in height.