War Shield

Wahgi Valley, Highlands
Papua New Guinea

Carved wood, rattan and pigments
20th century
Height: 49 ½ in. (126 cm)

Field-collected by Chris Boylan

Price: sold

Melanesia – Papua New Guinea
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Warfare has been at the center of Highlands life since immemorial times. The shield has always been considered an extension of the warrior himself.
When warfare was expected, warriors repainted their shields to ensure that the colors shone brilliantly against the sun to dazzle and threaten the opposing side. In the western Pacific, shields bore the name of warriors, and possessed a life force, or spirit, that connected them to their ancestors.

The example show here is a medium-sized, rare type of Highlands war shield. It is called Rumag and was used when quick movement was needed.
See “Art of New Guinea Highlands - the Jolika Collection” fig 6. 22, page 131 for a similar example.