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Shield Telefomin Area West Sepik Province Papua New Guinea


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Collection No. TB-2403
Size Height: 153cm x 72cm Width
Shield Telefomin Area West Sepik Province Papua New Guinea
Shield Telefomin Area West Sepik Province Papua New Guinea
Shield Telefomin Area West Sepik Province Papua New Guinea
Shield Telefomin Area West Sepik Province Papua New Guinea
Shield Telefomin Area West Sepik Province Papua New Guinea
Shield Telefomin Area West Sepik Province Papua New Guinea
Shield Telefomin Area West Sepik Province Papua New Guinea
Shield Telefomin Area West Sepik Province Papua New Guinea
Shield Telefomin Area West Sepik Province Papua New Guinea

This fine old and well used Shield from the Telefomin Area in the Star Mountains area of the West Sepik Province in Papua New Guinea.

Among the Telefomin and related groups their War Shields were considered to be ancestral relics and were kept in men’s ceremonial houses.

The Telefomin are also famous for their carved & painted Ceremonial House Boards and Doors that have designs that are often similar to their Shields. These carvings  were attached to the front of  the Men’s Ceremonial House.  (also see the great Telefomin Door on my website)

The construction of the Men’s Ceremonial House with carved doors and panels also coincided with the eligibility of the house to store ancestral relics like Shields.   The spiritual ‘heat’ of such relics was believed to be a danger to the well being of women and children so ancestral relics were kept only in men’s ritual houses. In the men’s ritual houses, boys and young men passed through several stages of initiation into the mysteries of the ancestors and the rituals that ensured the growth of the staple crop (taro), the health and welfare of the community, and success in hunting and warfare.

The designs on the Shields were specific to a clan and area specific and the designs had ancestral power, each shield had its own personal name. This fine Shield has deeply incised designs with a central motif and the edge of the shield has a serrated triangular border.  The designs are  highlighted with red, white & black ochre.  On the back of the shield you can see how it was held with a crossed bamboo strap going from corner to corner.

Warfare was widespread among traditional enemies in neighbouring areas and alliances were made & broken regularly between different  groups. These large rectangular shields were used in battle by two men, one pushing the shield forward and another warrior hiding behind the shield and free to use his bow and arrows with great accuracy.

This shield would date from the 1940’s-1950’s.

Provenance: Collected in the 1960’s by an Australian expat Barry Ison who was working in New Guinea in the 1960’s

The Todd Barlin Private Collection.

References:

Dr Barry Craig a true New Guinea Art expert who lived in the Telefomin area in the 1960’s.  His Chapter in the Book: ” Shields of Melanesia ” 2005 Chapter: 5.2 pages 117 -124. This gives the clearest information on Shields from this area.

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

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.

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. 

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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