Two Asmat, Western New Guinea Mangrove wood war shields

Two Asmat, Western New Guinea Mangrove wood war shields

1800 to 2000 New Guinea

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Two Asmat, Western New Guinea Mangrove wood war shields
First Half 20th CENTURY

Sizes: 229cm high, 222cm high

Provenance: Ex London Private Collection
The Asmat live amongst the winding rivers and streams on the South West

Coast of New Guinea and although a colonial government was established

in 1938 it was not until 1950 that the area was brought under

government control.

Asmat art is considered to be the most aggressive and dynamic of this

whole area and the conceptual strength and power of the Asmat artists

work certainly maintains their reputation as fierce headhunters.

It is believed by the Asmat that their carving serves as a vehicle for

appeasing ancestors. Every death must be avenged in order for the souls

of the dead to move into the next realm. Warfare is therefore an

integral part of life.

These shields were used not just for defence but to strike terror into

the enemy. New shields were carved and named after a relative of the

bearer whos death had to be avenged and there were therefore imbued

with great supernatural powers.
Height 229.00 cm (90.16 inches)
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