NEW INFORMATION Yahray Headhunters ornament
A very important Headhunter's decoration called ramog in the language of the Yahray Tribe of Southern Irian Jaya. It possibly represents a phallus, partly covered with a fringed skirt made of Jobs Tears seeds and is worn hanging on the back of the distinguished warrior. The neck-strap is decorated with several pieces of bamboo. This type of decoration was made by the old men of the tribe and was officially awarded during the batik-jamé, a pig feast that followed some successful headhunting raids.
There are four levels of distinction amongst the Yahray headhunters and the ramog is the first – awarded to a warrior who had succeeded in killing eight opponents during headhunting raids. The others are the tok for at least 12 kills; the oana for at least 15 kills; and finally, the ultimate distinction is the gouwa awarded to those who possessed the ramog, tok and oana.
Yahray Area (formerly known as the Mappi), Mouth of the Digul River, Southern Irian Jaya, Indonesian New Guinea. Gourd, feathers, seeds, and fiber.
Collected in the field by a Dutch colonial circa 1940/1950 and since then forgotten amongst his belongings. Ex coll. : Maurice Stevens, Holland.
See a similar but mis-identified example in “Asmat, Leben mit den Ahnen“ by Konrad & Konrad & Schneebaum, 1981, Fig a, p. 150, INV. N° N019, col. Konrad. Other known examples are in the collections of the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac (ex coll. Musée de l’Homme) Paris, and The Wereld Museum, in Rotterdam.
Pub. : Catalogue of Asmat Art, Oceanic & Eskimo Art, and Paintings by Eugène Brands. Galerie Meyer - Oceanic & Eskimo Art, TEFAF 2019, p. 19.
I wish to thank Niels Beckers for not only bringing this important information to my attention but for also publishing an in-depth study of these ornaments and the Yahray tribe as well as bring into the limelight the published works of rev. father Jan Boelaars (1915 - 2004) a Dutch missionary.
Ref. : click here for the PDF of the Niels Beckers article on Jan Boelaars and the Yahray :
Niels Beckers PDF