Gope Board,Wapo Creek Papuan Gulf, Papua New Guinea
This finely carved old Gope Board is from the Era People Wapo Creek Area in the Papuan Gulf on the South Coast of Papua New Guinea. Gope also called “Spirit Boards ” that 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. Collected in 1960s and the Gope was already old at that time.
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 Todd Barlin Collection of Oceanic Art.
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