Gope

oceania | Papua New Guinea

Gope

Papua New Guinea

Gope spirit board
Omaumere village, Urama Island
Papuan Gulf

Carved wood, natural pigments
Late 19th – early 20th century
Height: 40 ½ in. (103 cm)

Field-collected in February 1966 by Thomas Schultze-Westrum
Ex collection John A. & Marcia Friede

Published: Interiors, 2023
Gope ex Schultze-Westrum / Galerie Flak Price on request
As described in "Coaxing the Spirits to Dance" (Hood / Metropolitan Museum), in the past, the primary focus of religious and artistic life in the region was on powerful spirits (imunu). Each imunu typically was associated with a specific location in the landscape, rivers, or sea, and was linked to the specific clan within whose territory it dwelt. Papuan Gulf wood sculpture was primarily two-dimensional, consisting of board-like carvings, known as spirit boards (Gope or kopé), and figures with designs in low relief. Villages formerly had large communal men's houses divided into cubicles, each allotted to a particular clan or subclan. Every cubicle contained a clan shrine, which housed the Gope spirit boards, figures, human and animal skulls, and other sacred objects associated with the clan's various imunu.

Video

Documentation

Attached field photograph by Thomas Schultze-Westrum: Omaumere Village, Urama Island, February 1966, courtesy M. Hamson

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