Abelam Magic Bone Tube

A very fine and archaic bone magical tube carved overall with the representations of the ancestral spirits or Nggwal. Long thought to worn in the hair these remarkable and esoteric objects are now know to be used in making magic – the type of magic however is still yet to be disclosed. Michal Hamson reports in his Abelam catalogue of 2015 (p. 241) that the tubes and their function were « each time … explained in terms of magic and secrecy with the suggestion of malicious intent »…by his informants in the field. In some case old traces of compounded lime are found on the porus surface in the inside of the tube but this is still unexplained as well.

Abelam Area, PNG, Melanesia. Human bone with a fine patina of long usage and great age. 14 x 4 cm. 19th century or earlier. Acquired from Michael Hamson c. 2000.