A Rare Old Vanuatu Carved Wood Men’s Back Ornament Espiritu Santo Island in Northern Vanuatu
|Size||37cm x 39cm|
A Rare Old Vanuatu Carved Wood Men’s Back Ornament Espiritu Santo Island in Northern Vanuatu Collected in the late 19th Century
This rare and beautiful Men’s Back Ornament is from Espiritu Santo Island in Samna Province in Northern Vanuatu ( formerly known as The New Hebrides Islands)
It would have been worn only by a man of a certain grade in the men’s secret societies for which Vanuatu is well known. Artworks and Ornaments were made specifically for levels or grades in the men’s secret societies. I have looked very hard for a historical photo of a man wearing one of these ornaments but I haven’t found it yet, I am sure that one exists. If you see a photo of one being worn could you please let me know?
The beautiful refined ovoid form is flat on the side it would have rested on the man’s back. There are pecked designs around the edge of the wood ornament, it has a fine tree bark string belt decorated with old trade beads that were used to attach it to your waist.
Provenance: Captain William Campbell Thomson ( 1851 – 1934 ). The Todd Barlin Collection of Oceanic Art
William Campbell Thomson was born in 1855 in Glasgow, Scotland. Captain William Campbell Thomson’s obituary notes that he commanded A.U.S.N. steamers from 1875 to 1919 most notably, the “Arawatta”, “Aramac”, “Levuka”, “Wyreema”, “Wyandra” and “Wodonga”.
During his 44 years of service, he traveled the eastern Australian coast, New Guinea, New Caledonia, Fiji and other parts of the South Pacific. Thomson was a well-respected seaman who was the author of at least three publications including “The Gulf of Carpentaria”, “History of the N.E. Coast of Australia” and “The Early History of Australia”.
He was captain of the Croydon when it was chartered by Alexander Agassiz, the famous American scientist, and engineer, on a voyage from Brisbane to Cooktown in April/May 1896.
Thomson gathered a very fine collection of Oceanic and Aboriginal artworks including items from inhabitants of northern Queensland, PNG, and Fiji.
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.