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A Fine Old New Guinea Shield Mendi Valley Southern Highlands Province Papua New Guinea

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Size (117cm x 42cm)
New Guinea & Oceanic Art
New Guinea Oceanic Art
Abelam New Guinea Art
Australia Aboriginal Bark Painting

A Fine Old New Guinea Shield Mendi Valley Southern Highlands Province Papua New Guinea

This beautiful old and well-used shield is from the Mendi Valley area of the Southern Highlands Province of  Papua New Guinea. This type of oval shield is called Worrumbi  in the local language and was used during tribal fighting with other nearby groups, there were regularly shifting alliances made & broken, and fighting over land boundaries was common.  A shield belonging to an important man became a family heirloom, and often a shield had a personal name and many stories were attached to it.  This shield shows significant age , the second image shows the dimpled carving and deep black glossy patina. Carved from a single piece of hardwood with an upraised central spine ending in a V shape at the top, there is a hole where feathers were sometimes tied as decorations, the rope handle is attached through two holes in the centre of the shield. Painted with red, white, and blue colours (the blue is likely from Rickets bleach Soap cake) that was highly valued as a colour that people did not have in their traditional pallet in ochre.  Early 20th Century

Provenance:   Field Collected in the Mendi Valley in 1985 and part of my private collection of shields that has been hanging on the wall in my house for 35 years

The Todd Barlin Collection of New Guinea Oceanic Art 


In 1969 Mankind Magazine No . 7 Pages 59-66 There is an article ” The Style in New Guinea Highlands Shields ” by J.A. Abramson is one of the best articles with line drawings of the types of New Guinea Highlands 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.  The excellent chapter on the Highlands of Papua New Guinea is the best reference book available on the subject. Twenty-Four of the Shields in this book are from my private collection: The Todd Barlin Collection

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, Below

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.


If you have a similar “object” for sale please contact me for the best price and honest advice by a Government approved valuer 

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