Bis Pole

Unknown20th Century

Minneapolis Institute of Art

Minneapolis Institute of Art

This is a ritual bis pole created to honor a recently deceased, important member of society. The family commissions an artist to carve a pole out of a single piece of wild nutmeg tree, representing clan members who have passed on. Its shape evokes a canoe, the main mode of transportation for the living and the dead, and a vehicle to take the spirit to the next world. The pole is displayed at a great community ceremony and a mock battle is staged around its base to appease any restless spirits. Then it is ritually disposed of, its purpose complete.

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  • Title: Bis Pole
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 20th Century
  • origin: Papua
  • Physical Dimensions: w12 x h174 x d45 in
  • Measurements: 174 x 12 x 45 in. (442 x 30.5 x 114.3cm)
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: The Putnam Dana McMillan Fund, http://www.artsmia.org/index.php?section_id=7
  • External Link: Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Minneapolis, MN, USA)
  • Medium: Wood, pigment