`imunu' ceremonial tablet with face

Ancestor Board, Gope, Urama People, Uramu Island, Gulf Province, Papua New Guinea The Urama people of the Papuan Gulf traditionally produced finely engraved wooden boards when a close relative died. These boards were called gope, and were set up in the ceremonial area of the men’s house (daimo). The spirit of the deceased person was understood to reside in the gope, and oversee the spirits contained within the skulls of pigs, crocodiles and occasionally humans that were arranged in honour around them on the floor. Among the Urama and a small number of related peoples, these boards take a fish-like shape, and are engraved with motifs that symbolise waves and other aquatic symbols. Wood, pigment, vegetable fibre. Late 19th Century. Formerly in the collection of the London Missionary Society.

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