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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Oceanic Art : Ambum Stone
Ambum Stone - ES.9756
Origin: New Guinea
Circa: 1500 BC
Dimensions: 5.5" (14.0cm) high x 1.8" (4.6cm) wide x 3" (7.6cm) depth
Medium: Stone
Condition: Extra Fine

Location: Great Britain
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An Ambum stone is a zoomorphic sculpture distinctive of Oceanic prehistoric culture, and in particular of the island of New Guinea. The sculpture represents a bird, with few details such as eyes and ears rudimentarily represented in light relief, and the mouth consisting in a single curved groove.

The use of these stones remains mysterious, as their ritual implications. It is nevertheless more than possible to suggest that at least some ambum stones (including the present ones) were used as pestels. It is in general possible to identify three basic categories: mortars, pestles, and freestanding figures. The tops of many pestles are adorned with images of human heads, birds, or bird’s heads, as in the case of the present artefact.

Dating these artefacts remains highly problematic, though organic material trapped within a crack in one example has recently been dated to 1500 B.C., firm dating and chronology for the figures are otherwise lacking. - (ES.9756)


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