Anthropology: Art of Tribal Renewal

Before his tragic death on an expedition to Netherlands New Guinea last year, young Michael C. Rockefeller, 23, managed to collect much of what he was searching for in the far Pacific: the religious art of the Asmat, a little-known Papuan people who live on the waterlogged Casuarinen Coast. Last week Rockefeller's extraordinary collection of Asmat carvings was on exhibition by New York's Museum of Primitive Art, and Dutch Anthropologist Adrian A. Gerbrands, who accompanied Rockefeller to New Guinea, was on hand to explain the intricate symbolism.

Art in New Guinea, said Dr. Gerbrands, is intensely religious, tangled in the...

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