A superb Trobriand Islands shield of arching pear-shaped form, with two bamboo handles affixed to the back, and highly decorated on the surface with an intraicate abstract interlocking motif depicting various mythological and totemic figures; fine aged patina, or ochre, white, and black pigments. Height 31.5" inches.
Provenance: James Davidson Collection, Melbourne
Cf. Hurst, Art and Artifacts of Melanesia, 1992:24. As Hurst has noted, Shields from the Trobriand Islands are rare, and were carried into battle by particularly brave men, not nescessarily thoses who were chiefs. Malinowski observed that the painted shield was a challenge to the enemy, since great honour was awarded to the man who spit it killed the one who carried it. Therefore, a painted shield attracked many more spears than a plain one-- Malinowski saw a shield that had as many as fifty-six spear marks (1920:11). By 1900, the British colonial authorities had pacified the Islands to a great extent, and painted shields were no longer in use.