Title:Bis PoleArtist:Unknown Date:20th centuryCreation Place:Oceania, Papua, Credit Line:The Putnam Dana McMillan FundAccession Number:74.79.1
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.