Bilishoi, the ancestral hero

14 July 2020

According to a myth, Bilishoi is an ancestral hero who, having turned evil after leaving his sisters in his native village, killed some of the men building a ceremonial house. Compelled to defend himself against the other men who fought back, he took refuge on the house top but would eventually be struck by a spear.

Bilishoi is carved as a rooftop piece, the sculptor having clearly worked in such a way as to represent his figure as seen from far below, as suggested by the missing chin. When you will meet him, don’t worry, he is now armless in a window display at the Barbier-Mueller Museum.

Roof Ridge of a Ceremonial House
Roof ridge of a ceremonial house representing Bilishoi. Lower Sepik, Yuat River, Biwat area. Wood, traces of pigments, shells, vegetal fibres, cassowary feathers. H. 146 cm. Former A. Speyer collection, Berlin, L. and E. Eckert-Voegelin collection, Basel. Inv. 4077. Musée Barbier-Mueller, photo Studio Ferrazzini Bouchet.