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Massim Stone Wealth Axes Milne Bay Province Papua New Guinea


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Collection No. Left to Right: A-1860 (26.5x11cm) A-1861 (29x13cm) A-1853 (26x12cm) Massim Stone (1)
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Massim Stone Wealth Axes Milne Bay Province Papua New Guinea
Massim Stone Wealth Axes Milne Bay Province Papua New Guinea
Massim Stone Wealth Axes Milne Bay Province Papua New Guinea
Massim Stone Wealth Axes Milne Bay Province Papua New Guinea

These fine old and used ceremonially Wealth Stone Axe Blades are from the Massim Culture in the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea.

These beautiful Stones are also sometimes bound to a ceremonial Wood Axe which their sole purpose is to show the beautiful Stone. You can see the hafted Stone Wealth Axe example on my website.

These Stones have great importance to the Massim Culture, they are used & traded over many generations, when you see them up close they have a green colour and a smooth feeling from long use and handling.  These Stones are  from the 19th Century or they could be much earlier.

These Wealth Stone Axe Blades were used in the complex Kula trading circle that built life time trading partners & commitments between a large groups of small islands in the Milne Bay Province . Kula valuables traded purely for purposes of enhancing one’s social status and  prestige. Carefully prescribed customs and traditions surround the ceremonies that accompany the exchanges which establish strong, ideally lifelong relationships between the exchange parties (karayta’u, “partners”). The act of giving is a display of the greatness of the giver, accompanied by shows of exaggerated modesty in which the value of what is given is actively played down. Such a partnership involves strong mutual obligations such as hospitality, protection and assistance.  Kula valuables never remain for long in the hands of the recipients; rather, they must be passed on to other partners within a certain amount of time, thus constantly circling around the ring. However, even temporary possession brings prestige and status. Important chiefs can have hundreds of partners while less significant participants may only have fewer than a dozen.

Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of New Guinea Art and Oceanic Art and Artefacts

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