A Fine Old New Guinea War Shield Lumi or Nuku People West Sepik Province Papua New Guinea
|83cm x 37cm
A Fine Old New Guinea War Shield from the Lumi or Nuku Area in the Torricelli Mountain Ranges of The West Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. Dating from the early 20th Century
Nuku is only 60 kilometers away from Lumi but there is a distinct change in form of the shield and designs. Dr Barry Craig writes in the seminal book on Shields ” The Shields of Melanesia 2005 ” The form of the spiral motifs on the Yeri & Nuku Shields can be compared to designs from the Urim speaking hamlet of Yakalik “.
In New Guinea where most of the shields are either oval or rectangular, the Lumi Shields stand out with their elegant irregular and beautiful form. This shield is deeply incised with designs that remind me of an abstract lizard but that may not be the case. This shield also retains part of the original red and white ochre painting that highlights the designs.
I am sure that long ago the person who made this shield had stories both about the shape shield and the designs which are now probably lost. 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.
The two holes for the original rattan handle which now missing but you can the old wear on the holes showing prolonged use. Originally the rattan handle or strap on the back of the shiels where the warrior could slip through his arm and firmly hold in place on this shoulder hands-free to shoot a bow & arrow while protecting his body from enemy arrows. Lumi Nuku shields were quite light and quite thick and could easily stop an arrow from penetrating the warrior.
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
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