Yangoru Boiken Ancestral Spirit Face Yangoru Boiken Ancestral Spirit Face Sotheby’s New York December 2, 1983, lot 25 I was fortunate about 20 years ago to collect some real masterpieces from the relatively little known Yangoru Boiken area—so I am now sensitive in spotting this art. In the old days, as with this catalog of 1983, Yangoru Boiken figurative objects were lumped together with their more prominent neighbors the Abelam or “Maprik” for the town at the center of the area. As popular as New Guinea art from the Sepik basin and Maprik area has been this past 60 years it wasn’t really until 1983 that Yangoru Boiken objects started showing up at auction—mislabeled of course. It is thus shocking that one of the very first pieces to surface is an absolute stunner. Undeniably pre-contact and stone-carved this ancestral spirit face has all the hallmarks that make Boiken art so striking. While not a mask to be worn, the face is carved out on the reverse with eyes and mouth cut through to give the inhabiting spirit the power to see and breathe. The eyes have tubular stalks similar to those found on some talipun bride price payments. The nose is in relief with a wide-open septum and pierced nostril where a string and shell decoration would have dangled. The mouth is ajar with a full complement of teeth. The archaic nature of the sculpture is confirmed by the living, breathing expression and an off-kilter composition with the head leaning from the abbreviated body. The surface has thick, layered remains of pigments. In the accompanying description the provenance is listed as Umlauf Collection, Hamburg—which I would tend to question… Either way, this figure did not go unnoticed—realizing $2860—which in today’s dollars amounts to $8300. As a point of reference a fine Maori feather box sold at the same sale for $660.