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Superb Old New Guinea Shell Wealth Bangle Sulka People New Britain Island Papua New Guinea

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Collection No. T-330
Size Left to Right Diameter 12cm, 11cm, 10.5cm
New Guinea & Oceanic Art
New Guinea Oceanic Art
Abelam New Guinea Art

Superb Old New Guinea Shell Wealth Bangle Sulka People New Britain Island Papua New Guinea Dating from the 19th Century 

These old spool-shaped Shell Bangles are Wealth Ornaments from the Sulka People of East New Britain Province Papua New Guinea. These beautiful old Shell Wealth Ornaments are 19th Century examples. I have seen the people in the Solomon’s are making modern versions of these and they are machine-made and look modern.

These three objects were made the traditional way of using bamboo and sand friction to cut and shape which took months of hard work. In all three fine examples, the largest heavy one is 12cm in diameter and quite thick and heavy. The other two are 11cm & 10.5cm in diameter and the quality is similar. These were collected in the early 20th Century. They date from the 19th Century.

Fine Shell Bangles like these were not worn daily for fear of damaging them, they were highly valued as a form of traditional currency and could be used in paying a dowry by a young man’s family for his bride.  As far as I know, the Sulka were the only people who made these spool-type bangles that have the deep groove, they were widely traded around New Britain and to the mainland of Papua New Guinea, the spool-shaped Bangle does appear to be part of an ancient tradition from SE Asia as I have seen them in Museums from Thailand.

In their ceremonial arts, the Sulka people of northern New Britain consciously seek to achieve magnificence, striving to maximize the visual impact on the viewer. Brightly pink colored and ephemeral Masks that the Sulka create for one-time use in dances and ceremonies, during which their fleeting beauty allows the audience to briefly glimpse the divine.

You can see the Sulka people’s great appreciation for beauty in these beautifully made bangles.

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.