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A Superb Old New Guinea War Shield Asmat People West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia

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Collection No. TB-3952
Size Height 168.5cm

A Superb Old New Guinea War Shield from the Asmat People on the South Coast of  West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia

This fine old and well-used shield was collected at Weo Village on the Wasar River area of the remote Northwest Asmat on the South Coast of West Papua (Irian Jaya) Indonesia.

The carver of this shield  had been deceased for a decade according to the Catholic Priest in Sawa Erma in 1985. The carver was the last great master carver of this very old style of Shield, The shield would date from the 1940s-1950s.  There is one similar shield in the Asmat Museum at the Crosier Mission in Agats Asmat that was collected by my friend Tobias Schneebaum in the 1970s.

Asmat Shields were important objects that venerated their ancestors, each shield had a personal name and when invoked during warfare the enemy was said to be frightened or stunned and easy to kill.  The main Asmat creation myth is about the creator Fumeripitjs who was lonely so he carved figures from wood and then he made a drum, when he played the drum the carved wood figures came to life and that is how the first Asmat people were created.  For the Asmat the connection between trees and people and the forest is profound.

I spent a lot of time in the Asmat region in the early 1980s and old and used Shields of this quality in the Coastal and Northwest Asmat Areas were rare. Many of the artworks I collected then are now in major museum collections around the world including The Musee du Quai Branly Museum in Paris, when you walk into the Oceanic Art Pavilion at The Musee du Quai Branly the first thing you see is the monumental ancestor poles from the Asmat & Mimika along with Dance Costumes Shields and large Soul Canoe, all of these were field collected by me. Originally they were in an exhibition ” Asmat et Mimika at The National Museum of African and Oceanic Art in 1996 (now that museum is part of The Musee du Quai Branly).  The exhibition the Asmat and Mimika in 1996 was published in the prestigious Louvre Museum Magazine see the link below and a photo of the exhibition above.

Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of New Guinea Oceanic Shields.

I have been collecting New Guinea Shields since 1983 when I bought my very first shield, over the next 35 years I bought the very best New Guinea Shields that I could for my collection;

References:  The Shields of Melanesia ” 2005 Edited by Harry Beran & Barry Craig

This whole book mainly on New Guinea Shields is one of the best references ever published & I owned 28 of the Shields in this book 

I helped write three chapters in the most important book on New Guinea Shields, ” Shields of Melanesia ” 2005  edited by Harry Beran and Barry Craig.  These were the chapters I wrote for this important reference book including a Chapter on the Asmat & South Coast of West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia.

3.1 Shields from the North Coast of Western New Guinea: Pages 28- 32 : West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia

5.1 The Shields of the Highlands of Western New Guinea : Pages 112- 1117  :  Yali Shields Central Highlands West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia

6.1 Shields from the Southern Lowlands of Western New Guinea: Pages 155-165 : Four areas of  The Asmat People and Digul River areas.

See my new exhibition gallery showing the Museums and Art Galleries Exhibitions that I provided artworks for over the past 40 years. There is the link to the article about my artworks published in the prestigious Louvre Magazine in 1996

I have artwork for Museums and 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 specializes in New Guinea and Oceanic Art.  Sydney is very close to New Guinea & the Pacific Islands where all of these amazing artworks came from, Australia’s closest neighbors.


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

To see many more rare items and the finest masterpieces, please make an appointment with us to visit the gallery.

For all inquiries, please contact us