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Marupai Charms from the Papuan Gulf area, Papua New Guinea 19th C.


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Collection No. Top: TB-2961 Bottom:TB-2962
Size 6-7cm
Marupai Charms from the Papuan Gulf area, Papua New Guinea 19th C.
Marupai Charms from the Papuan Gulf area, Papua New Guinea 19th C.
Marupai Charms from the Papuan Gulf area, Papua New Guinea 19th C.

These beautifully carved dwarf coconuts called Marupai were important magical charms or amulets that most men would have had. The incised  designs highlighted infilled lime are based on clan totems. Each clan would have their own style of Marupai unique to them. They had immense spiritual power that could be used in many ways. The people from the Papuan Gulf Area on the South Coast of Papua New Guinea were some of the finest artists from the Island on New Guinea. Their great ceremonial and spiritual cycles took years to complete and many types of artworks were produced for these traditional ceremonies, the main ones that people are familiar with are Gope Boards , Gope are also known as Kwoi in the Kikori , Baimaru . Uruma, Hohao, and Orokolo areas of the Papuan Gulf.  They represent the spirits of ancestral heroes that can protect clans from evil spirits and death.

Marupai Charms were used for:

“ They were used for magic such as to protect a man & his family from being attacked through the spirit world and sorcery.

They were used to send and deliver messages to other people with Marupai through the spirit world.

They were used in warfare to confuse an enemy with their powers

They were used as hunting charms for finding wild pigs & cassowary birds.

They were used to transport a person magically from one place to another.

They were used to control the weather “

These charms were kept in small woven bags & sometimes hung around the neck of a sorcerer.

Provenance: Ex Toast and Rohu Sydney Collection, 19th Century

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