A Superb Old New Guinea Pigment Dish Sepik River Area East Sepik Province Papua New Guinea
A Superb Old New Guinea Pigment Dish Sepik River Area East Sepik Province Papua New Guinea and dates from the late 19th Century
This finely carved old pigment dish is from the Middle Sepik River area of Papua New Guinea. Small ornate bowls like this example were used for mixing ochre colors to paint important ceremonial objects. Ochre was mixed with a bit of coconut oil to act as a binder to get it to stick well to the painted surfaces of ceremonial artworks.
This fine example is carved in the form of a turtle or some other small totemic animal. The bowl is incorporated into the body of the turtle figure and the legs are carved outside the bowl. There is a carved turtle head at one end and its tail at the other. Pigment dishes were usually owned by old men who had kept and used them their whole lives. Sometimes they were family heirlooms used over several generations.
Ochre painted on ceremonial objects was said they give the object spiritual energy that brightened the object. Ceremonial artworks were usually repainted each time they were used for a ceremony.
The whole bowl has an old brown-black patina from long use and handling
In addition to creating larger works of sacred sculpture, the peoples of the Sepik region have highly developed traditions of decorative arts, as elsewhere in New Guinea, much of Sepik decorative art is devoted to the adornment of the human body. Sepik artists create diverse forms of jewelry, headdresses, and other personal ornaments.
Personal possessions such as this pigment dish or charms, and a variety of paraphernalia associated with the use of betel nut were often superbly crafted and adorned with both the ancestor figures and spirits and other supernatural beings as well as totemic species associated with the owner’s clan.
Provenance: Collected in the 1920s by Dr Edwin Archibald Holland who was in New Guinea working from 1927 to 1933.
The Todd Barlin Collection of New Guinea Art and Oceanic & Aboriginal 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.