Asmat Ancestor “Ndambirkus“ Headhunter Human Trophy Skull
Ancestor Skull “Ndambirkus”; Human Skull, Cassowary Feathers, Coix Seeds, Crab‘s Eye Vine Seeds.
Ancestor skull “Ndambirkus” human skull, partly brown patina, the lower jawbone is tightly attached to the skull by a woven rattan band, the eye-sockets filled with beeswax, encrusted with the greyJob‘s-tear grass seeds and the red Crab‘s eye vine seeds. The nose area is embellished with a head-hunter’s “bipane”, a spiral shell nose- ornament. Earrings with feather tassels decorate the ears. A headband with Coix-seeds and Cassowary feathers adorn like a crown. The basic thematics of the Asmat Culture are head-hunting and ancestor worshipping. Their ceremonial life is chiefly aimed at appeasing the spirits of the dead, which is why skulls of treasured ancestors, or “Ndambirkus”, were such elaborately embellished. Furthermore, the importance of captured heads in traditional Asmat life is clearly demonstrated by the role they played in male initiation. It was impossible for boys to become men without taking a head. A man’s vital strength is said to be particularly present in the skull, and the life force of another provided the energy necessary for a boy to make the jump to manhood. Provenance Coll. Dr. Weiglein, Frankfurt am Main, Germany (coll. in situ 1960-71) Vgl. Lit.: Smidt, Dirk, Asmat Art, Leiden 1993, p. 21.