Payback Dolls, Mendi Valley, New Guinea Highlands, 1970s

1970s
wood, pandanus leaf, fibre, paint, feathers, shell and seed body ornaments
86 x 18.5 cm each
$3,500 for the pair

Figurative works from the New Guinea Highlands are rare. These two figures, male and female, are very fine examples of what are termed “payback dolls”. This denotes that figures were made after a death; especially a death in warfare. These ‘dolls’ are made and kept until such time as the death is avenged. Some Highland figures, similar to this pair, were collected in the 1960s by Stan Moriarty, and now part of the Art Gallery of NSW Collection.

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