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A Superb Old New Guinea War Shield Asmat People West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia

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Collection No. SOLD
Size Height 189cm x 67cm wide
New Guinea & Oceanic Art
New Guinea Oceanic Art
Abelam New Guinea Art
Asian & Japan Scholars Art

A Superb Old New Guinea War Shield Asmat People West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia

This fine old and well-used shield was collected at Pupis Village on the Wasar River area of the remote Northwest Asmat on the South Coast of West Papua (Irian Jaya) Indonesia.  This shield I field was collected in 1985.  The carver of this shield  had been deceased for a decade according to the Catholic Priest in Sawa Erma which is downstream from Pupis. The carver was the last great master carver or Wow Ipitsj in the area and I have two shields carved by him.  The shield would date from the 1940s-1950s

Asmat Shields were important objects that venerated their ancestors, each shield had a personal name and when invoked during warfare the enemy was said to be frightened or stunned and easy to kill.

I spent a lot of time in the Asmat region in the early 1980s and old and used Shields of this quality in the Coastal and Northwest Asmat Areas were rare. Many of the artworks I field collected then are now in major museum collections around the world including The Musee du Quai Branly Museum in Paris, when you walk into the Oceanic Art Pavilion at The Musee du Quai Branly the first thing you see is the monumental ancestor poles from the Asmat & Mimika along with Dance Costumes Shields and large Soul Canoe, all of these were field collected by me. Originally they were in an exhibition ” Asmat et Mimika at The National Museum of African and Oceanic Art in 1996 (now that museum is part of The Musee du Quai Branly).  The exhibition the Asmat and Mimika in 1996 was published in the prestigious Louvre Museum Magazine see the link below and a photo of the exhibition above.

Provenance: Exhibited & Published in Oceanic Arts Pacifica: Artworks from The Todd Barlin Collection at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre Sydney 2016. Published in the exhibition catalog page 63

I have been collecting New Guinea Shields since 1983 when I bought my very shield, over the next 35 years I bought the very best New Guinea Shields that I could for my own personal collection; The Todd Barlin Collection of Oceanic Shields.


Shields of Melanesia ” 2005 Edited by Harry Beran & Barry Craig

This whole book mainly on New Guinea Shields is one of the best references ever published.

I helped write three chapters in the most important book on New Guinea Shields, ” Shields of Melanesia ” 2005  edited by Harry Beran and Barry Craig.  These were the chapters I wrote for this important reference book including a Chapter on the Asmat & South Coast of West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia. 

3.1 Shields from the North Coast of Western New Guinea: Pages 28- 32 : West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia

5.1 The Shields of the Highlands of Western New Guinea : Pages 112- 1117  :  Yali Shields Central Highlands West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia

6.1 Shields from the Southern Lowlands of Western New Guinea: Pages 155-165 : Four areas of  The Asmat People and Digul River areas.


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