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A Fine Old New Guinea War Shield, Wahgi Valley, Western Highlands Papua New Guinea


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Collection No. TB-3373
Size 156cm x 62cm
Oceanic Arts Australia buys and sells tribal New Guinea art

A Fine Old New Guinea War Shield Wahgi Valley, Western Highlands Papua New Guinea

This old and well-used shield was collected in the Wahgi Valley in the Western Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea in 1965 -1966 by a geologist working in New Guinea. The bold design is started by a punctated pecking that becomes the outline for the designs that are painted in yellow, white, and black colours. This shield has signs of being well used in fighting because of the many arrows and spearheads embedded in the front of the shield. Wahgi Valley Clans have a range of designs that they use on their shields, each design is likely to belong to a specific clan and can be easily recognized by enemies and clansmen alike. Warfare was widespread among traditional enemies in neighboring areas and alliances were made & broken regularly between groups. These large rectangular shields were used in battle by two men, one pushing the shield forward and another warrior hiding behind the shield and free to use his bow and arrows with great accuracy.  Old photos of fighting in the New Guinea Highlands show many warriors with shields facing off over a large space where people surge forward and then move back.  I have seen warriors standing on rural dirt roads with their shields expecting a fight, this was in the 1980s, and later when people acquired guns then shields became obsolete due to their not being effective against modern guns.    Hanging on the wall in my home it looks amazing.  The shield would have been made in the 1930s as it was old when collected in 1965.

Provenance: Collected in 1965 -1966 by a geologist working in New Guinea

The Todd Barlin Collection of New Guinea Oceanic Art Art

See more Shields in Shields Gallery

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