The spathe is the woody part of a palm tree that surrounds the flower. Cultures in tropical areas use this part of the tree for a variety of purposes.
This palm spathe is from Saragum Village in the East Sepik River Province of Papua New Guinea. It features an image of a sitting male figure. Painted palm spathes of this type are used to decorate the front of a men’s house, also known as Haus Tambaran, a building where the men of the village negotiate with the spirit world to assure the villagers’ security and good fortune.