SW-12 Fighting Shield, Okapa

Shields & Weapons

SW-12 Fighting Shield, Okapa

Eastern Highlandsnds, PNG Wood, fibre, pandanus leaf, cane, pigment.

This is an old shield, from a remote Okapa region of the Eastern Highlands region, used over several generations of fighting.
Shields among the Fore people, who live near the small patrol post of Okapa, are carved from two main woods: a softer wood, called verafa and a harder timber called ufozei. This shield is made of verafa, the most common. They are thicker and often engraved with fine chevron designs.
The back of the shield has a small bag to hold extra arrows, and a rope to help support the top of the arrows.
The painted design on the shield, which pays no attention to the underlying engraved motifs, appears abstract. But informers among the Fore say it symbolizes two different, but connected elements of the earth. The parallel lines depict garden trenches for growing yams and sweet potato: the Fore say, we paint gardens on our shields “because this is what we fight for”. The zig-zag lines towards the bottom depicts lightning; it is believed powerful Sky Spirits send the lightning, and these spirits must be respected and feared.


144 x 42 cm

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