Gope Board, Giobari Island, Papuan Gulf Area Papua New Guinea
This beautifully carved Spirit Board Gope is from Goaribari Island also spelt Giobari is at the delta of the Kikori and Omati Rivers in the Papuan Gulf Area on the South Coast of Papua New Guinea
Gope or “Spirit Boards ” are the embodiment of powerful spirits that represent each clan. No two Gope boards are the same, sometimes they are made from the sides of old canoes which provide a ready made flat shape to carve the Gope boards from.
In pre-European contact times the Papuan Gulf people made huge ceremonial houses with peaked roofs called Ravi , this where the Gope Boards and other types of ceremonial objects were kept safe & secret from the uninitiated. Gope boards were often kept on shrines that had boars skulls and human skulls from headhunting placed around them on racks. Gope boards are one of the most recognisable artworks from the Island of New Guinea. The Papuan Gulf people had complex ceremonial cycles that took sometimes a decade to complete. There are many art styles styles in the Papuan Gulf stretching from the Elema area the east to the Bamu area in the west, they are also neighbours of the Gogodala & Marind Anim people who live on both sides of the boarder that splits the island between Papua New Guinea and West Papua Indonesia.
Provenance : The late Alyn Miller Collection ( 1955- 1998) Alyn was working for the UN in PNG and was instrumental in setting up one of the first government sponsored traditional art business in PNG in the 1970s. This afforded Alyn may opportunities to travel to many remote areas of PNG, where he selected the best artworks for his own collection. He was also did the research and editing for the book “The artefacts and crafts of Papua New Guinea”
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