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Two Superb Old New Guinea Bailer Shell Necklaces Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea

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Collection No. TB-783 a -b
Size Heights: 26cm & 28cm
Oceanic Arts Australia buys and sells tribal New Guinea art

Two Superb Old New Guinea Bailer Shell Necklaces Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea

These Two Superb Large Old Bailer Shell Necklaces are from the Mendi Valley Area of the Southern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea. They date from the 19th Century and have a beautiful warm patina from generations of use.

These large Bailer Shell Necklaces were not just pretty ornaments to wear but also an important type of traditional wealth and currency that was used to pay for bridal dowries, land disputes, or given as a sign of respect during funerals of important clan leaders both men & women.

These are the most beautiful examples I had field-collected and I have kept them in my private collection for 38 years.  These ornaments would have taken a huge amount of time to make using traditional tools, cutting them with sand and bamboo friction method.

As you can see in the field photos they are worn the convex side out & equally worn by both men and women.

Most shell ornaments made in New Guinea were not only objects of great beauty but all a store of traditional wealth that families & clans kept & used and traded and received for generations.

The Highlands areas of New Guinea are a long way to the coast where shells were found, they are traded and slowly work their way through walking tracks through different communities and finally reach the Highlands people where they are important objects of traditional wealth.

The fertile Highlands have long been inhabited and artifacts uncovered in the Ivane Valley indicate that the Highlands were first settled about 50,000 years ago. The inhabitants were nomadic foragers but around 10,000 years ago began developing a fairly advanced agricultural society.  The Highlands were not settled by the Western powers during the early colonial period and they were first visited by western zoologists and explorers, such as Mick Leahy who opened the Wahgi Valley and Mount Hagen, and Richard Archbold in the 1930s.

I spent several years in the early 1980s traveling to remote areas in both West Papua & Papua New Guinea collecting & documenting traditional art & ceremonies, much of what I collected is now in important museums & private collections around the world.

Large old Bailer Shells like these two were rare and still highly valued when I was there 40 years ago.

These beautiful shell ornaments and others I am starting to list on my website were from my private collection that I have kept for 40 years and I am now ready to sell due to age & health.   Keep looking at my website as I will be adding beautiful art to all the galleries & sub-galleries regularly.

Provenance The Todd Barlin Collection of Oceanic & New Guinea Arts & Arts of West Papua Indonesia

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 in1996 (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 

To see many more rare items and the finest masterpieces, please make an appointment with us to visit the gallery.

For all inquiries, please contact us.