Harold and Mary Cohen : The Papua New Guinea Slide Collection
Object ID:
Haus Tambaran ( spirit house), stairs
Upper Sepik, Manam Island, "Murik Lakes" Region, Papua New Guinea
Image of the front of a Haus Tambaran (spirit house) showing the stairs leading up to door with thatched awning. Decorations on building above the door up to the thatched roof above. Woven exterior siding panels. Raised on stilts.

Haus Tambarans (spirit houses) are large structures where villagers along the Sepik River store their treasured artwork that represents the spirits that live in the house and hold sacred ceremonies. Traditionally, only men and initiates were permitted inside. Women were excluded. The gable has a face with large eyes and a pair of boar's tusks piercing the nasal septum. Underneath, bones from a large fish are barely visible. A finial at the top is not present in this photo. It is replaced temporarily with an "X" form of wood. Usually, the tall finial is a carved figure of a man in the grips of a large bird. That symbolism gave force to the musical instruments. A second finial at the opposite end of the curved roof is a straight penis or a bird. A small child sits on the ground at the base of the stepladder that is raised up at night. The under story stilts are higher than a person.
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