Korewori cult hook (yipwon)

Description:
Cult hook of the 'aripa' type found in the Karawari (Korewori) region. It probably depicts a powerful warfare and hunting spirit, characteristically standing on one leg. The hook-like 'arms' are in fact the spirit's ribs, and the patterns may represent his internal organs. The figure has a delicately carved head whereas its lower body is more crudely finished. It is decorated with white, red and black paint, again with greatest intricasy on the face.


Context
The Korewori River is a major tributary of the Middle Sepik. Cult hooks also derive from the Blackwater River area in the same region, which may be the source for this example since it differs strongly from the 'classic' black-stained Korewori type (see 40017). Cult hooks are helpful in preparing for hunting or fighting expeditions. If the hunt or battle is successful, the cult hook will be doused with blood or other liquid as an offering to the yipwon. If the hunt fails or the battle is lost, the cult hook will be discarded. The tradition derives from a creation myth telling of the Sun, who made the yipwon spirits in the process of carving a slit-gong (log drum), the yipwons deriving from the many woodchips produced.