An old Sepik River Neckrest in the form of a Dog
|Size||Length : 55cm|
This finely carved Dog shaped Neckrest is from the Middle Sepik River area in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea.
The artist who carved this Neckrest was very skilled, the standing dog looks as if it’s in motion walking. It has an old rope where it was hung on the wall when not in use. Dating from the 1940s. This Dog is one of my favorite sculptures.
For western people, the idea of this kind of wood pillow or neckrest looks extremely uncomfortable but almost every culture in the world made and used wood neckrests so they must have been ok sleeping. In Papua New Guinea some tribes had a large hairdo that they didn’t want to flatten while sleeping hence the wood neckrest kept their hair in good shape.
Dogs in New Guinea arrived with people that navigated their way through populating that Pacific Islands. The New Guinea dogs look much like the Australia Dingo. Dogs have great importance for the people on the Island of New Guinea, dogs are essential for hunting wild boar & cassowary (a large flightless bird like an emu). When men go out to hunt they always take their dogs with them to help find and corner these animals.
Dogs also have a very important place in the mythology & ceremonial life of Melanesian. Dogs can also be a clan totem.
The other aspect about Dogs in New Guinea is that their canine teeth the sharp ones at the front are an important type of traditional wealth after the dogs die their teeth are saved and pierced at the top of the tooth and made into necklaces and other beautiful ornaments. The dogs were so important as traditional wealth the Germans before WW1 made them out of porcelain in Germany and then used as money to pay the local people to work on copra plantations.
Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of New Guniea and Sepik River Art
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