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War Shield, Simbai Area, Bismark Schrader Ranges


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Collection No. R-76
Size Height 108cm x 55cm wide
War Shield,  Simbai Area,  Bismark Schrader Ranges
War Shield,  Simbai Area,  Bismark Schrader Ranges

This beautiful old & well used Shield is from the Kalam People in the Simbai Area of the Bismark Schrader Mountain Ranges in Madang Province of Papua New Guinea. This fine old shield is carved from a single piece of hardwood, pierced in the middle to hold a bush fibre rope handle. The upraised designs in high relief look like a floral motif but this is only my impression and not the true nature of the designs that might only be know to the artist and his clan. The whole shield has an old black shiny patina. Kalam or Simbai Shields are highly sought by collectors because the fit in well with modern design & paintings. Warfare was widespread among traditional enemies in neighbouring areas and alliances were made & broken regularly between groups. These  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.  Old photos of fighting in the New Guinea Highlands shows many warriors with shields facing off over a large space where people surge forward and then move back.  I have seen warriors standing on rural dirt roads with their shields expecting a fight, this was in the 1980;s , later when people acquired guns then shield became obsolete due to their not being effective against modern guns.  The the overall condition of the shield is very good.  Hanging on the wall in my home it looks amazing.

This shield would date from the 1940’s or earlier , it was collected by missionaries and later part of the finely curated John Rix Collection in Sydney.

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