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Old 23rd June 2015, 06:54 PM   #1
Tim Simmons
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Smile 2 fine Mendi shields to view.

Picked up two new shields today. They are rather fine with a nice lustrous shine to the patina. They are carved from a heavy hard wood. One 117cm high the other 115cm. According to "Shields of Melanesia, edited by Harry Beran and Barry Craig, Hawaii university press 2005" These oval archers shoulder shields are the most important battle shields and always carved from hard wood. Used as the main static lines in set battles unlike the smaller heart shaped archers shields, which I assume are easier to run around with in a skirmish mode. From the a fore mentioned publication I include a picture of a very fine painted example. You can see the the decoration is based on the same design. The examples I have show residue white clay inlay to highlight the cut design.
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Old 24th June 2015, 07:04 AM   #2
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Hi Tim,

They look made from planks of timber rather than hewn from a trunk? Is that how they should be made? I have no idea but seems strange to me?
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Old 24th June 2015, 09:10 AM   #3
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In essence they are carved from planks taken length ways from a tree trunk. 45 cm wide with a convex surface and slight concave back. Heavy.
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Old 24th June 2015, 10:11 AM   #4
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Hello Tim,

sorry, but they look rather recent to my eyes.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 24th June 2015, 10:54 AM   #5
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Well I am not going to struggle to take better pictures. Obviously I can see them in the flesh so to speak but here is one with the same decoration except painted.

http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/c...ion/work/80242/
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Old 24th June 2015, 03:27 PM   #6
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A more moody picture. You can just discern a black tint in places on the wood, what is left of a black paint. Most observable in the bottom left arc. I have found this interesting PHD thesis on Mendi ans Sluka colour. Scroll down to page 53 and you will find lots of useful shield information which one would not find in the collecting world. Shields were repainted when the colour wore off or at an owners whim. I think in this picture you get some idea of use wear. I do not have the camara and lighting skills to show things at there best. What I thought was white clay inlay is after x10 inspection, places where the red paint is flaked off showing the rougher untouch wood.

http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/3562/1/Row...HESIS.pdf?DDD5+
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Old 24th June 2015, 05:19 PM   #7
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A FINE SPECIMIN OF PUPPY DOG. ONE THING TO REMEMBER ABOUT SOME AREAS OF THE WORLD SUCH AS NEW GUINEA AND SOUTH AMERICA IS THAT MANY OF THE PEOPLES HAVE BEEN FOUND RECENTLY WHEN COMPARED WITH ASIAN AND EUROPEAN HISTORY. SO EVEN IF THESE WERE MADE FAIRLY RECENTLY. SAY IN OUR LIFETIME IT CAN STILL HAVE SEEN ETHINOGRAPHIC USE AND BE A OLDER ARTEFACT OR EVEN PRE-CONTACT FROM CERTIAN GROUPS. IF OLD TOOLS WERE USED ,NOT POWER TOOLS AND THEY ARE WELL MADE AND IN THE TRADITIONAL FORM THEY ARE GOOD REPRESENTIVE SHIELDS FROM THE TRIBE REGARDLESS OF ACTUAL AGE. THE CLOSER TO FIRST CONTACT WITH GOOD PROVENANCE AS WELL AS WORKMANSHIP IS THE BEST CASE, BUT IS SELDOM THE CASE IN COLLECTING.
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Old 24th June 2015, 05:49 PM   #8
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Old 25th June 2015, 07:10 AM   #9
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Black paint, why there is only remnants I do not know but it was painted. In the thesis link I forgot to mention chapter 5 page 53.
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Last edited by Tim Simmons : 25th June 2015 at 08:28 AM.
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Old 25th June 2015, 04:18 PM   #10
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Reading the thesis more carefully may I suggest that between conflicts shields might be cleaned or perhaps neutralised and stored- the paint no longer active. When conflict seems to be about, perhaps there is ceremony in repainting. Repeated cleaning and repainting could lead to a kind of polish to the front of the shield surface. So perhaps contrary to the suggestion that it is recent, it could well be an old example, bearing in mind that highland exploration did not occur until the 1930s.
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Old 27th June 2015, 08:30 AM   #11
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From the images, I agree the shields seem to be of quite recent manufacture, being very crisp and smooth. Perhaps made in the last 20-30 years ? However, as is often the case with New Guinea material, they could still have been made for indigenous tribal use, rather than sale.

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Old 27th June 2015, 09:21 AM   #12
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Thanks for your input Colin always respected. I am not so sure that every thing is crisp the shields show considerable wear in places. Again it is hard to show without the items in hand.
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Old 27th June 2015, 10:42 AM   #13
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Hello Tim,

you have to consider the extreme climate circumstances in this area of the world which will let look even a hard wood very soon worn. The wood of your two shields look very unworn so my age guess.
Have attached some pictures of similar shields which show clearly age.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 27th June 2015, 02:37 PM   #14
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Well they may not be as artistic and old as those museum pieces but they have been in use for what ever reason at some time and look cool on the wall.
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Old 27th June 2015, 02:58 PM   #15
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Yes, agree with you Tim! But the eye-catcher is the very nice shoulder shield on the left!

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 27th June 2015, 08:30 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
Yes, agree with you Tim! But the eye-catcher is the very nice shoulder shield on the left!

Regards,
Detlef


Yes, nice shoulder shield indeed !!!
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Old 28th September 2015, 07:14 AM   #17
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Look at this one. Click on the image then the + and you will see the same deep cut decoration lines as in my examples. My examples show evidence of having been painted at some time. Nice to have a clan name. Worrumbi.

https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20157/lot/37/
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Old 29th September 2015, 06:57 AM   #18
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Correction "Worrumbi" is not a clan name. It is the name for the largest shields used in the Mendi valley. Here is an extract about contact in the Mendi valley 1954. Taken from the link which is extremely informative but very long. Hence the extract.

INTRODUCTORY VOTE:-
The following; "thesis is based on field-work carried
out in three periods: June to December, 1954; July, 1955
to. October, 1956; and July to -becember, 1958. The first
two visits were assisted by research grants from the University
of Sydney, and the third was financed by the W.M.
Strong Fellowship, which I held for 1957 and 1958.
Field-work-in this area presented certain difficulties.
When I arrived in Mendi in 1954, the government - station (the
first in the Southern Highlands District) had benn open for
only four years, and the whole . District was a "restricted,-
area". The natives were still hostile, and while. I was
there, government patrols were ,attacked twice, whin six'
miles of the station. Travelling without an armed escort
was presumed dangerous for Europeans, and our movements
were severely restricted. I myself was given more latitude
than were most Europeans who were not Native Affairs Officers, , but, until my, hird visit in 1958, I was not allowed more
than 10 miles north of Mendi station, nor could I enter the
neighbouring Lai Valley.

http://library.ucsd.edu/dc/object/bb21855464/_1.pdf
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Old 10th October 2015, 09:51 AM   #19
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Default Not over till the fat lady sings!

She sings loudly now.

I have a copy of a journal.

The art of war: Wola shield designs
Paul Sillitoe
University of Manchester
Journ. Royal Anthropol. Inst. (MAN) 15
No. 3, 1980

I post the the most relevant pages. Here this type of shield is spelt "watumbiy" and I think the information will help us understand more what we see in this thread, unpainted but displaying heavy use.
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Old 15th September 2016, 04:31 PM   #20
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Adding to the controversy as too how recent these shields are, or are not. Look at the shield on the wall in the background of this informative video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVjhhHdOB8I
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Old 12th October 2016, 04:20 PM   #21
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Just wanted to add this pic of the new shield with the one on the wall, as the one in the back ground featured in the Australian Museum video.
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