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A Fine Old New Guinea Massim Soul Boat Trobriand Islands Milne Bay Province Papua New Guinea

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Collection No. TB-3937
Size Length 45cm ( Figures 17cm tall each)
Abelam New Guinea Art
Asian & Japan Scholars Art
New Guinea Oceanic Art
New Guinea & Oceanic Art
Asian Buddhist Art

A Fine Old New Guinea Massim Soul Boat from the Trobriand Islands in the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea. 

This fine Massim Ancestor Figural carving is from the Milne Bay Province in the Eastern end of Papua New Guinea. The late Dr Harry Beran the world expert on the Massim culture & art described this type of figural carving as a ” Soul Canoe or Soul Boat “.  Though this beautiful artwork was carved for trade Dr Beran thought it came from a traditional art object and in his book ” Massim Tribal Art of Papua New Guinea ” Wollongong University 1980 he shows an example (no.140) and described this as s ” Soul Boat; a stylized boat with the detachable human figure in squatting position, the function of these models are uncertain though in a book by Bodrogi suggests that these carvings are soul boats, that is a model boat that provides transportation to the supernatural world of the dead “.

This artwork was made for trade with Europeans and probably dates from before WW2.  The artist was a highly skilled carver who made these very beautifully proportioned squatting ancestor figures and incised with spiral designs that the Massim artists are well known for.

Culturally the Milne Bay region is referred to as “the Massim,” a term originating from the name of Misima Island but is used to describe the artworks from the whole province made of 600 islands, about 160 of which are inhabited.

The regional trading systems of the islands around the eastern end of New Guinea are called Kula and are particularly elaborate trading systems where men had lifetime trading partners and social obligations and shell ornaments and cultural objects that constantly moved between communities.

The Massim artists are well known for their beautiful artworks such as Canoe Ornaments and their amazing Lime Spatulas used when chewing betel nut.  The Massim is one of my favorite art styles as their art is non-aggressive and also reminds me of the art of Lake Sentani an area in West Papua where I spent a lot of time.

This artist has a distinct confident style & almost certainly made other artworks If anyone knows of a similar artwork, I would be grateful to hear from you.

Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of Oceanic Art

I first went to Papua New Guinea in 1985 for an adventure & what I found was that I really enjoyed being with the people of New Guinea, over the next 38 years I spent extensive time spent collecting and documenting traditional art & ceremonies in remote areas of Papua New Guinea & West Papua, The Solomon Islands & Vanuatu & the other Pacific Islands countries. During these travels, I made major collections of New Guinea & Oceanic Art for major Museums and Public Art Galleries

I was honoured by being in the prestigious Louvre Museum Magazine for the collections I made for The Museum of African & Oceanic Art Paris in1996 (now the Musee Quai Branly) for the exhibition “Asmat et Mimika d’ Irian Jaya April 1996 At THE MUSEE NATIONAL des ARTS D’AFRIQUE et d’ OCEANIE, Paris

See all of the links & photos in my new EXHIBITIONS GALLERY and there is the link to the article in the prestigious Louvre Magazine 1996

I have artwork for Museums & Art Galleries but also for collectors at every stage of their collecting. I want to encourage people to explore the fine art of New Guinea & West Papua and the Pacific Islands and to be able to see and touch the artworks in a relaxed and friendly manner in my Sydney Gallery.  I would like to invite you to visit my gallery and see the artworks in person and also look at my website www.oceanicartsaustralia.com  where there are many Galleries & Sub Galleries to explore.

My Gallery of nearly 40 years is the last physical gallery in Sydney that specialises in New Guinea & Oceanic Art. Sydney is just a couple hours’ flight to New Guinea & the Pacific Islands where all of these amazing artworks came from, Australia’s closest neighbours.



If you have a similar “object” for sale please contact me for the best price and honest advice by a Government approved valuer 

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