Iatmul overmodeled carved skull | overgemodelleerde schedel


Iatmul overmodeled carved ancestor skull – from Sepik area Papua New Guinea

This is not a very old skull. It is a real Papua skull, made for tourists in the 1970’s or 1980’s. But since this work of art is made in PNG by the same people that worked on their direct ancestors – and with native materials – this is the best you can get in the tourist class. The thin carvings on the skull may indicate this was done on a fresh skull which could mean the skull used is an older tribal specimen.

The Iatmul are an ethnic group of about 10,000 people inhabiting some villages along the middle Sepik River in Papua New Guinea. The Iatmul are part of the Sepik people and are not a centralized tribe. They never act as a single unit. Villages are autonomous and people tend to self-identify in terms of their clan, lineage, village, or sometimes just as Sepik.

Head hunting was a river culture practice in the Iatmul area. Young men could only come of age by taking a head. The Iatmul people would take the heads in battle, boil away the flesh and hang the painted and decorated skulls as trophies in the men’s houses. The head hunters were not necessarily cannibals, but many were. Human flesh was eaten until fairly recently.

The Iatmul were headhunters in the times before contact with European missionaries in the 1930s. After the arrival of the Europeans, Iatmuls who practiced cannibalism and headhunting were labeled as murderers. After some of the men were publicly executed, these violent practices ended. Human skulls were mostly removed from the community houses and buried or sold.

Sold without the stand.

Sepik Iutmul skull from Papua New Guinea


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Authentic Tribal art object from Africa.