This is an ancestral effigy known as a korvar (or korwar). In the Cendrawasih Bay area of Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), at death an effigy is carved as a repository for the soul of the deceased. Korvar provide the link between the worlds of the dead and the living. The ancestor is consulted for advice and help in all major matters: preparations for war, to find out if the fishing will be good, to make or stop the rain, to ward off bad magic, etc.
The piece has a bird on his head. The bird is a stylized rendering of the bird of paradise which is indigenous to this area.
This piece was collected in the 1960’s by a ranger/surveyor. He gave his collection to the parents of Adrian Nicholas in 1987.
Kepala Burung, north-west Irian Jaya (Papua) possibly Biak Island
41"H x 6.5"W x 7"D