A FineThe Todd Barlin Collection of New Guinea Oceanic Art
|Size||Height: 49 cm|
A Fine Old New Guinea Canoe Prow Ornament Massim Culture Milne Bay Province Papua New Guinea Daying from the late 19th Century
This very elegant and rare type of bird-form Canoe Ornament is from the group of islands that make up the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea. Finely carved from a single piece of wood by a master carver.
The third photo above shows a drawing of the type of boat or Kula Trading Canoe it was used on where it was placed at the front of the boat. This is the only example of this type of Canoe Ornament that I have seen. Kula is a complex trading cycle that can make lifetime trading partners and social connections over the many that make up the Milne Bay Province. Often referred to as the” Massim” a term originating from Misima Island. Massim societies are usually characterized by matrilineal descent and elaborate mortuary rites that are part of the Kula trading system. Canoes were the main way of traveling by people in Milne Bay Province, they were able to travel long distances using a single sail made from fibre matts. This area of New Guinea made some of the most beautiful artworks from all of New Guinea, the Massim, are well known for their beautiful lime spatulas, canoe ornaments, and yam house decorations, and their artworks are featured in many major museum collections around the world.
Birds motifs are often used in Massim art, frigate birds are very important to the lives of the Massim people when watching the ocean, they can see when frigate birds are hunting small baitfish by circling and diving in the water, where there are small baitfish large fish such as Tuna follow.
Canoe Ornaments are carved throughout the Massim region in distinctive styles roughly corresponding to the approach of carvers active in different groups of islands. They are material repositories of esoteric cognition that incorporate key elements of an otherwise oral, immaterial system of knowledge. Canoe & Canoe Ornaments master carvers in the Trobriand Islands are initiated into a highly specialized and ritualized apprenticeship at a very early age. The apprenticeship lasts many years and includes learning magic spells and incantations, imbibing substances, as well as adhering to a very rigorous system of taboos that need to be observed in order to carve beautiful Canoe Ornaments (the two qualities being synonymous in Massim culture).
Provenance: The John & Marcia Friede Collection is now part of the De Young Fine Art Museum in San Francisco California.
The Todd Barlin Collection of New Guinea Oceanic Art
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