Marind Anim Mourning Cape, Kabu-Oceanic Art
Marind Anim Mourning Cape, Kabu
Marind Anim culture area, Papua Province, Indonesia
Collected by Sacred Heart Missionaries 1905–1925
Jolika Collection of Marcia and John Friede
The Swiss ethnologist Paul Wirz studied the Marind Anim people between 1915 and 1919 and describes a mourning ritual performed by women called makan hawn in which a procession of mostly female relatives visits the gardens and other places the deceased routinely frequented during his lifetime. It was a touching and emotional event that allowed the women to talk and reminisce about the departed individual as they came to various spots around the village. During the makan hawn, the elderly women wear kabu mourning capes such as the present example (see Wirz, 1922, p. 220, and J. Van Baal, 1966, pp. 795–797). This particular cape is extremely finely constructed with plaited yellow orchid fiber and a combination of cross-stitch and running stitches sewn in white, brown and light-red fibers (see Jill D’Alessandro and Christina Hellmich’s article on New Guinea fiber works from the Jolika Collection, “From Construction to Ritual Function: An Exploration of New Guinea Fiber Masterworks,” published in 2008, where they discuss a similar kabu in the de Young Museum in San Francisco).
Late 19th/early 20th century
71” (180.3 cm) in height