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A Fine Old New Guinea Bowl Tami or Siassi Island Huon Gulf Morobe Province Papua New Guinea

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Collection No. TB-1555
Size 56cm x 29cm
New Guinea & Oceanic Art
New Guinea Oceanic Art
Abelam New Guinea Art

A Fine Old New Guinea Bowl Tami or Siassi Island Huon Gulf Morobe Province Papua New Guinea

This very old Food Bowl is from Tami or Siassi Island in the Huon Gulf Area of Morobe Province in Papua New Guinea. Carved from a single large piece of hardwood in the form of a Bird.  The outside rim of the bowl is the bird’s wings which act as handles they are incised with designs that make it look like feathers, the front of the bowl is finely carved with the bird’s head & the other end is the tail of the bird.

Old bowls like this example are family heirlooms that are kept through generations and used on ceremonial occasions. Important old bowls are also used in traditional dowry payments made by a young man’s family.  This old bowl dates from the late 19th Century.

Tami bowls were carved from a type of hardwood known as kwila. The process of hand-hollowing was a long and tedious process considering that nearby islands had mastered the much-expedited process of hollowing with fire. The incredible hardwood used for Tami-style bowls also made working with traditional Papua New Guinean tools like stone or shell adzes and animal teeth all the more difficult.

Designs were chosen with great care. Especially before production moved from Tami to Siassi, each bowl was marked by a design serving as the kinship group’s trademark. To copy the design of another carver was enough to start a feud, and it was often avoided. This is one of the reasons why the region’s bowl production was localized on Tami Island for as long as it was.  Birds which for the Tami were also representative of powerful spirits feature heavily in their art.

Provenance: Collected in 192os by  Dr Edwin Archibald Holland who was in New Guinea working from 1927 to 1933.

Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of New Guinea Oceanic Art 

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 in 1996 (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.


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

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