Tropen 2 (Bis Pole)
The second item that I had to illustrate for the Tropen Museum was the bis poles (circa 1950) of the Asmat Tribe from Papua New Guinea. The Asmat people were originally cannibals. Yes, headhunters! They celebrated the dead by carving a bis pole out of a Mangrove tree. These giant wooden sculptures of their ancestors had great meaning and were thought to have supernatural powers. After a final feast, the Asmat abandoned the bis poles in the sago palm groves from which they obtained their primary food. As the poles decayed, their fertile supernatural power returned to the earth and fertilized the sago trees.