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Primitive Tribal Art, Artifacts to be Exhibited

Dec. 22, 2004--The art and artifacts of a tribe known for its headhunting ritual will be on exhibit at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Jan. 10 to Feb. 9 in the Harriet Barry Gallery of the Chalmer Davee Library.

The exhibit, "Changing Cultures, the Asmat People of Papua, New Guinea," is free and open to the public. A reception, featuring light refreshments and a talk on Asmat culture, will be Jan. 27 from 4 to 6 p.m.

The exhibit includes jewelry, such as ornamental nose pieces and armbands, arrows, shields, decorative carvings and "ancestor poles," on which are carved figures representing those recently deceased, whose deaths have not been avenged.

The pieces are on loan to the University from the American Museum of Asmat Art in St. Paul, which is dedicated to the study, preservation and presentation of the culture and spirit of the Asmat people, a culture that is currently 65,000 members strong.

The tribe, first discovered in the mid-20th century, has a philosophy based on maintaining equilibrium, and sees illness, suffering and death as stemming from imbalance. Activities such as avenging an enemy’s actions by headhunting were seen as re-establishing equilibrium. A Catholic missionary order, the Crosier Fathers and Brothers, first displayed Asmat artifacts in the 1970s and '80s. In the mid-1990s, the current museum was established as an independent, nonprofit organization.

This is the first museum display to exhibited at the UWRF library, which usually focuses on the art of local residents, students and faculty. Putting the exhibit on tour is also a new venture for the museum.

Library hours from Jan. 10 to 23 are 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday - Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, with the exception of Jan. 17 and 22, when it is closed. Starting spring semester Jan. 24, the library is open 7:45 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday - Thursday; 7:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; and 1 to 11 p.m. Sunday.

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Last updated: Tuesday, 22-Jun-2010 16:21:18 Central Daylight Time

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