Papua New Guinea
Rumag war shield
Wahgi Valley, Highlands
Carved wood, pigments and rattan
First half of the 20th century
Height: 57 ½ in. (146 cm)
Ex collection of the Catholic Mission, Minj since the 1950s
Acquired from the Catholic Mission by Chris Boylan, 1978-1979
Ex private collection, Europe
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.