Chris Boylan Oceanic Art

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warrumbi, Upper Lai Valley, Southern Highlands, PNG

Shields from the Lai Valley are oval in shape, are generally painted in geometric motifs. This shield is particularly interesting; the geometric designs used in the Lower Lai Valley give way to a bold but abstract colours, with a vague figure, seemingly appearing through the clouds.  This amorphic figure represents an ancestor, most likely one who died in battle; he brings both protection to the warrior carrying the shield, and seeks revenge against the enemy.


The shield has several layers of colour, mainly red and orange. But there are also areas of blue, that appear to be non-traditional paint. This is typical of Highland artists – to use any new products when they come available.   Though this shield is obviously old, it has been repainted many times, into current times.    The back of the shield really shows the age of the shield, and also the patina that has built up over several generations of use.

Collected by Chris Boylan in the upper regions of the Lai Valley in 1998. The shield is considerably older, dating back to early colonial period c. 1950s –early 1960s.

Size: 131 x 48 cm

Price: $ 4,500

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