Ancestor pair, itara

Atauro Island, East Timor 

Wood, cotton, fiber cord 

19th to early 20th century 

Ex Collections: René Wassing, Rotterdam; Frits Schmidt and Catharina Sonnevelt

9 in / 23 cm each

These itara figures have a serious demeanor, well-shaped ears and arms, and a keen attention to detail at the kneecaps and ankles. The prominent nose displays affinities with ancestor figures from the relatively nearby islands of Moa, Leti, and Lakor. The Dutch anthropologist René Wassing was Michael Rockefeller’s surviving companion on their ill-fated boat journey off the coast of Asmat territory, West Papua New Guinea in 1961. He later became curator of ethnography at the Museum voor Volkenkunde in Rotterdam, now known as the Wereldmuseum.