Ceremonial dagger "Pi Pisuwe"
Asmat-people, Irian Jaya, New Guinea, Indonesia, early 20th century, private collection from Netherlands.
The Asmat are a coastal people occupying a low-lying swampy region in Indonesian province of Irian Jaya. Their homeland covers approximately 25,000 square kilometers in southwestern Irian Jaya. The swampy region include sago palms, mangroves, and patches of tropical rain forest. Asmat people are widely known for the quality of their wood sculptures, and they are also notorious for their traditional practises of headhunting and cannibalism, which were linked to the unsolved disappearance of Michael Rockefeller, 23-years old son of former New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, in 1961 while touring the region to collect indigenous artwork.
This is a stunning cassowary bone dagger from Irian Jaya. Daggers made from the cassowary bone are called ”Pi pisuwe” and ”Ndam pisuwe/ Ndam emak pisuwe” are those that are made with human femur bone. Although daggers were used in displays of warfare, they are used only in ritual killings and in initiations. Men would wear this dagger as part of their traditional attire during customary ceremonies by girding it on the side of their waist.
This remarkable museum quality ”Pi pisuwe” has a deep glossy patina throughout from generations of use and handling. Smoothed form. Decorations. Gorgeous patinated color. Good condition. Dust and dirt. Size approx. 17cm x 2,5cm.