This ceremonial flute is from the Mumeri Village in the Middle Sepik region of Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea is home to one of the most diverse populations in the world with over 1,000 separate communities with their own customs and traditions and more than 800 languages spoken in an area slightly larger than California.
Mumeri Village is particularly noted for their handcrafted flutes which include elaborately designed wooden stoppers decorated with faces representing clan figures as well as totemic animal figures. The stoppers are painted with clay or vegetable based pigments. The sacred flutes are usually played in pairs during ceremonies and initiations. The Mumeri people consider the low melodic tones to be the voices of the clan’s ancestor spirits. Traditionally, women, children, and uninitiated boys are not allowed to see the flute being played.