PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Abelam Karawut Boar Tusk Charm (PO012)
Description of item:
Good gallery display, Maprik Hills, North Sepik River, woven cotton figure with two (2) pairs of pig tusks attached as double horns, accented with shells and red, blue and yellow natural pigments, 1960’s.
Height: 34 cm (13 inches)
Width: 12 cm (4.7 inches)
The karawut is the Abelam people’s unique, two-dimensional body adornment that takes the form of the human body. Finger knotted in hand rolled bush string, worn around the neck. There is at least one set of boar’s tusk inserted on either side of the face and sometimes more tusks are inserted in the mid-torso area. Often the laundry blue colour is used, introduced during the German colonization. It is only worn by men on special occasions when full ceremonial dress and face paint is applied.
The name Karawut comes from the words kara (meaning boar tusk) and wut (meaning a womb or the hand knotted bilum bag). It is a symbol of male adulthood and young boys received this figure following initiation. It is said to have protective function.
Geoff Carey (New Guinea Gallery)