A Superb Old War Shield from the Kandarian Arawe area of Southwest New Britain Island which is the largest island in the Bismarck Archipelago, part of the Islands Region of Papua New Guinea.
This shield has a field photo of the owner with his shield & a spear that was taken in 1965 by the Geologist Peter Austin, much of this collection in now in the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada,
These rare and beautiful shields are made of three planks of wood bound together with rattan. The front of the older shields from this area is convex, the finely incised designs are carried over all three planks and tapering towards the edge. The bank of the shield the largest middle plank has a recessed vertical grip. The most amazing aspect of the back of the shield is finely painted ochre designs in red and black.
This fine old shield has eight pairs of concentric circular designs incised on the front, these have remnants of the original ochre painting.
These designs are mesmerizing to look at; in fact most New Guinea Shields the designs are meant to frighten or confuse the enemy. I was told this by many different tribal groups in New Guinea and West Papua,
In many areas of New Guinea shields are said to be vessels for ancestral spirits and often have personal names that only the owner of the shield can invoke.
This old shield has numerous spears or arrow holes and or arrow tips embedded in the shield and can be clearly seen in the photos.
When you see this Shield in person you can see right away that it is a very old shield and though ancient in its tradition it also has a superb modernist sculptural form that would fit well in a modern house with modern art.
Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of Oceanic Art & Shields