Shield, Upper Brazza River Area, Eastern Asmat Area
This fine shield was field collected in 1985 as I visited the Upper Brazza and Kolof River Areas in the remote Eastern Asmat Area on the South Coast of West Papua (Irian Jaya) Indonesia. At the time of collection, the people in this area were still nomadic roaming the forest and living in tree houses for protection. This old guy just appeared on the side of the river with his shield, we had no common language and I showed him some trade goods as money was unknown to them, he wanted my knife and we made a happy trade knife for shield. In the field photo the man seems quite happy. The villagers attire was was that men were basically naked except for sometimes tying a leaf over their foreskin, the women I saw were wearing tree fiber covering over their genitals.
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.
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