Ancestor skull “Ndambirkus” human skull, honey brown patina, the lower jawbone tightly attached to the skull with a cord-like material, the eye-sockets are filled with beeswax, decorated with grey seeds of Job’s-Tear Grass (Coix lacryma-jobi) and red seeds of the Crab’s Eye Vine (Abrus precatorius). The nose is modelled with a blackish resin-like material, a piece of Cymbium shell was cut in the shape of a nose ornament. The head band is made with cord and Coix seeds and is decorated with tassels of feathers from the white cockatoo.
Good Condition; just like normal household articles in Asmat culture human skulls were part of everyday life. The skull of a treasured ancestor was treated with outmost respect, it was dressed in a ceremonial manner and kept in a secure place. Sometimes it was attached to a cord and worn around the neck. The men used to carry the skulls around with them in order to keep in contact with the ancestors. When sleeping they used the ancestor skulls as a head rest. The skulls of enemies, called “Ndaokus” were kept in the mens house. They always show a hole in the side of the skull which was used to remove the brains which were later ingested. The lower jawbone was always separated from the skull and given to the women to wear as a necklace, which was regarded as the ultimate insult towards the enemy. Provenance : Private Collection, Austria (1960).