Cenderawasih Bay, Indonesia
32 cm. high
This important ancestor figure was part of the extraordinary group of korwars in the Henry Blekkink collection, which generated great excitement among collectors of Indonesian material when it surfaced only about ten years ago.
Henry Blekkink (1888, Java - 1953, The Hague) was a Dutch high school geography teacher who spent the first ten years of his childhood in the Dutch East Indies. In his article in the Tribal Art Magazine, Weener demonstrates that Henri Blekkink likely acquired his korwar collection from the protestant missionary of the Utrecht Missionary Society, Frans Johannes Frederik van Hasselt (1870-1939).
According to the author, missionaries from the Utrecht Missionary Society were dispatched to northern New Guinea starting in 1862. Upon their arrival in the Cenderawasih Bay area, they began collecting korwar ancestor figures. F.J.F. van Hasselt arrived in the region in 1894 and actively gathered a substantial quantity of material during numerous boat trips to the various islands in the area. He sent those objects to the Netherlands, where many were displayed in exhibitions organised from 1909 by the Utrecht Missionary Society.
Weener suggests that Henry Blekkink most likely encountered van Hasselt through the New Guinea study circle of the Moluccan Institute, a group they both joined in the thirties.
According to the old label attached to the back of this figure, this Korwar was collected on the southern coast of Biak Island.
Henry Blekkink (1888-1953), The Hague
Weener, F., ‘The Korwar Collection of Henry Blekkink’, in Tribal Art Magazine, no.63, Spring 2012, p.88
Corbey, R., "Korwar: Northwest New Guinea ritual art according to missionary sources", Leiden, 2019, p.68, fig.41, p.77, fig.49 and pp.116-117, fig.85