Middle Sepik River Magical Flute-New Guinea Art-Oceanic Art
The ceremonial flutes of the Iatmul culture from Papua New Guinea’s Middle Sepik River were side blown by seated men and played in pairs to the accompaniment of a hand drum. The sounds they produced were the voices of certain spirits-be they bush or ancestral. I’ve included a field photo by Barry Craig taken in 1981 in Yentschan village included in his book “Living Spirits with Fixed Abodes.” The flute here is unusual for having beautiful Janus ancestral faces surmounted by a long beaked bird with all the cloth, feather, shell and bead attachments intact--that were so important to the culture that used the flute but rarely remain with a flute that makes it to the market. The piece dates to the early/mid 20th century, stands 58 ½” (148.6 cm) in height.