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    Description

    Ambrym Island, (Vanuatu)
    Rare janus grade figure
    Mid-20th century
    Carved fern, paint
    Height: 69 inches


    Carved from the fibrous trunk of the tree fern, grade figures were created as part a complex system of grade-taking rituals through which a man could advance through a hierarchy of ranks. Each advancing rank brought increasing status, secret cultural knowledge, and importantly the equivalent rank among the ancestors after death.

    On Ambrym Island, the advancement through a single grade could take several years. Upon reaching a new grade, the initiate was required to commission a fernwood grade figure and to pay for the associated ceremony and rites with traditional wealth in the form of sacred tusker pigs.

    Upon completion of the carving, the figure would be covered in a paste made from earth and breadfruit tree resin, and then vividly painted with intricate motifs. The grade figure would then be erected under a raised platform in the villages central dance ground called a nasara. A large ceremony would be held in the nasara where members would dance rhythmically and chant ancient melodies associated with the grade. The initiate would then climb to the platform and dance triumphantly, declaring to all his new status.

    This grade figure presented measures 69 inches in height. The brightly colored paintwork, though not complete, is highly detailed and masterfully applied. The janiform rendering of this sculpture is an extremely rare design and would have belonged to an initiate of very high rank.

    Provenance:
    A Private Dallas Collection


    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2014
    14th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,806

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