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A Superb Old New Guinea War Shield Ramu River Area Madang Province Papua New Guinea

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Collection No. TB-3595
Size Height 70cm
New Guinea Oceanic Art
New Guinea & Oceanic Art
Abelam New Guinea Art
Asian & Japan Scholars Art

A Superb Old New Guinea War Shield Ramu River Area Madang Province Papua New Guinea dating from the 19th Century 

This fine old shield is from the Rao People in the Middle Ramu River area in the Madang Province of Papua New Guinea. Carved from a single piece of hardwood of elongated oval form. The beautifully carved designs in high relief consist of an upraised and elongated triangular shape covered with incised designs. The designs are also on either side of the upraised triangular area. The designs are highlighted in red & white ochre painting. The shield is very old and considering it was collected in 1927 it is 19th Century & probably stone carved.

The designs on these shields are almost always stylized faces representing a mythical ancestor with great power to protect the shield owner in battle. Each shield had a personal name. Designs are also said to frighten the enemy into being stunned where they can be easily killed.

In the informative reference book : Shields of Melanesia 2005 edited by Harry Beran & Barry Craig, the chapter on Ramu River Shields pages 101 – 103 have some good information about them. This chapter 4.5 written by Dr Barry Craig states ” Shields from the Banaro and Rao people have been traded to different areas, not much cultural information about these shields has been published but Richard Thurnwald indicated in a sketch he made in 1916 that the shields were displayed on the sides of the walls of the Men’s Cult House at the rear where the Scared Flutes were stored “. Craig writes further ” there appear to be two relatively distinct types of shields and two sizes, defined  by the size of  triangular upraised ridge and the designs painted on either side of the wedge, both types of shields were made in two sizes being average 123cm x 48cm and the smaller version like this shield of 66cm x 26cm”  In the book page 103 figure 4.40 is a photo of a similar but slightly smaller shield at 37.7cm x 17.3cm , these smaller shields were worn on the front of the chest protecting a warriors torso while leaving him free to use a bow and arrows.

Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of New Guinea Oceanic 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 in1996 (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. 


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

To see many more rare items and the finest masterpieces, please make an appointment with us to visit the gallery.