War trumpet Fu, Asmat, Irian Jaya / Papua New Guinea.

The 'fu' or 'Fue' is a ceremonial trumpet of the Asmat. This signal horn is made from thick sections of bamboo and is open at one end, other end has a hole in center of joint. Some fu were undecorated, but most were ornately carved with geometric designs. When a woodcarver carves the Fu, it is said that he gives the wood life. During headhunting raids, warriors blew the fu, whose loud sound was believed to terrify or paralyze the enemy. Also used during 'feast cycles' and played in the 'lead' canoe, and blown to signal the return to the village to proclaim their triumph. The bamboo horns were often used as pillows, in case of danger they were within reach to be sounded instantly.

According to Asmat legend, the Arch-Woodcarver Miroko-atayao was the only survivor after all the people in the world had been devoured by a gigantic crocodile which made a strange roaring noise; this is the sound of the Fu.

For related examples see page 98 of "Asmat, Leben Mit den Ahnen”.

Excellent carving of deep relief, nice old patina and the surface have been softened by age and handling, cracks.

Length 33,7 cm / 13.2 inch.

Dates from the late 19th century.

Provenance: Property from a Dutch private collector.