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$2000 plus tax & shipping
This fascinating 'Flame - vitamin enriched flour - strength and energy - Merimekim Skon' (meaning - 'wife do scones' in pidgin') motif war shield from Papua New Guinea depicts contemporary imagery painted in the traditional manner over previous decoration on an old war shield, reflecting integration of cultures in 1970's New Guinea. Waghi valley shields are the biggest in the highlands. The tribesmen hold great respect for their shields often referring to them as their "brother". The shields are passed down from generation to generation, and repainted for different battles. The tribal shields were for fixed battles. The shield carrier was armed with a spear and formed a front protective line. Bowmen followed closely using the same shields as protection. Battle scars are visible on this old shield.
In the 1970's, some areas of the Waghi valley started to use motifs relevant to modern times, rather than traditional motifs. The most famous of these are the Phantom shields and the use of South Pacific Lager beer motifs. The shields were often commissioned to be painted by sign painters. The Flame flour motif on this vintage shield is very rare and likely unique. It reflects the Highlanders belief around 'strength and energy'.
Flame Flour is an iconic brand in Papua New Guinea. Launched in early 1970s, it is a key consumer food staple that has been passed down the generations of Papua New Guineans. Predominant memories of many youth were carrying sacks of flour up the hills so their mothers could make fried flour. Like many in PNG, fried flour (pancakes) for breakfast was a big part of growing up. “Eating flour at home is where I got my energy to become big and strong.” The shield representing the belief which was carried into tribal wars to intimidate the opposing tribe.
This shield has a lovely shape and contour, the colors are vibrant and the reverse side has an intact arm cord. It is made of solid wood and has been flamed dried over a fire showcasing its early origins. The piece had an aging crack along the bottom right hand side which only adds more character to the beautiful rare piece. A few knicks at the back of the shield (see photos) correlating to the age of this piece.
Although the artist who painted this shield is unknown – it is a stunning collectors piece and very rare to find on the open market today.
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