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Post Lot Text
A brag is a representation of a war spirit or spiritman (Lipset 1997: 136). Small figures are found throughout the Sepik region, most like the Jolika example, are standing figures with arms either held to the sides or raised to the nose (see Friede, 2005, vol 2, pp.92-93). These small figures served as charms to deflect evil and ensure prosperity. They were either carried in bags (see Micromégas, lot 26), worn around the waist suspended by a type of belt or kept as personal objects in one's home (Wardwell 1994: 44). It seem unlikely that the Jolika figure was carried solely in an amulet bag, because there is a suspension hole at the reverse. It's possible it served a dual purpose. One, in which it was worn. Another, it could have been suspended in a dwelling with the upturned section at the foot acting as a type of hook, which is characteristic of larger-scale figural sculpture from New Guinea. The upturned element at the foot appears to be unique among this corpus of small figures.
Friede notes that it can be compared to another, slightly larger (25 cm.), figure in the Rijkmuseum voor Volkenkunde, Leiden, inventory number 3573-1 (most likely). However, this figure reflects real pathos in the slightly hunched back and shoulders pitched-forward. It would have been quite heavily adorned as there are worn holes at the ears and nose. The heavy proportion of the beak-like nose, and the finely worn surface, more so than other related small figures, calls to mind the masks from this region. See, for example, Wardwell 1971, p.20, figure 12, for a mask, collected by Captain Haug in Wewak in 1909, with a strongly pointed nose, with a medial ridge and pierced on either side and similar rimmed oval eyes as well as the worn surface, presumably from years of use.