American Museum of Asmat Art – Exhibition of Asmat Culture

American Museum of Asmat Art

The American Museum of Asmat Art is a gallery that exhibits the art and culture of Asmat Tribe. This tribe left plenty of intriguing artifacts and art pieces.

Other than dedicating the place to exhibit artifacts and cultural pieces of the Asmat Tribe, this museum wants to preserve culture that might not be happening again in the future.

Find out more about the Asmat Tribe and this museum through the article below.

What is the American Museum of Asmat Art?

As the museum’s name suggests, this place was created by an American group to exhibit the art and culture items from the tribe. The museum itself is located in the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota.

There are at least 2,000 objects being showcased in the museum – American Museum of Asmat Art is the largest in the USA for its kind.

Even though the artifacts and most of the items are quite difficult to collect, major Western museums widely showcase the Asmat group’s cultural goods.

The museum was founded by a Minnesota native named Bishop Alphonse Sowada. He was working with Asmat people in Agats, Indonesia.

Later, he wrote books about the art and culture of the Asmat Papua Tribe.

Long story short, that became the first step for the museum establishment. Today, the museum has been visited by plenty of people around the world.

The Asmat Tribe Rituals

There are various interesting things about this cultural tribe. Other than the unique lifestyle of the locals, people of Asmat have a ritual for almost everything.

Here are several Asmat Tribe rituals for specific occasions.

  • Death rituals, for instance, is a ritual of creating a fence made of palm trees. The purpose is to keep the evil spirit of the deceased away.
  • The Mbismbu ceremony, on the other hand, is a ceremony to carve a statue of the deceased. This is supposed to remind them of their family members who’ve been leaving first.
  • The next ritual is called Tsyimbu. This ceremony is a must if someone made a house or owns a boat. The ritual, on the other hand, is full of details, considering it’s done once every five years.

Art and Artifacts of the Asmat Tribe

Here are things you need to know about the art piece, artifacts, and unique things about the Asmat Tribe.

1. Carving

One of the most amazing things from this ethnic tribe is the carving. Even Pablo Picasso was fascinated with the carving pieces of Asmat. It can be statues or ornamental pieces.

Generally, the patterns are unclear but each of them is a symbol of their almighty. The most popular patterns are boats, human creatures, and traditional shields.

Since the Asmat Tribe has spread in so many places of Papua, each place has a different style. Of course, it becomes something that makes the carving work different from others.

2. Tobe Dance

This ethnic tribe also has a popular traditional dance called Tobe Dance.

There will be 16 males and two females dancing together, accompanied by traditional music instruments. People throw this dance during traditional ceremonies.

3. Traditional Music Instruments

The Asmat Tribe also owns a traditional music instrument called ‘ti’a’. The instrument is made of a medium wood stem with a hollow center.

It looks like a traditional drum and a carving is carved around the body. Commonly, ti’a was used for accompanying traditional dances.

The Asmat Tribe has gone through an uncomplicated civilization.

This is also the reason why this tribe performs simple tasks and maintains an uncluttered daily life. Yet, this ethnic tribe has produced plenty of art pieces and works.

On the other hand, the American Museum of Asmat Art is a dedicated place to exhibit those artifacts, art pieces, and cultural items made by the Asmat Tribe.

Other than introducing and educating people about this ethnic group, the museum plans to preserve culture.