Lot: 46

91 Tribal Art Auction

War shield "yemes"

Papua New Guinea, Northwest Asmat, Emari Ducur

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
German Private Collection (1978) H: 58.9 inch;
B: 20.7 inch
1500 EUR
plus 21 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance

mangrove wood, lime, red ochre, the stylized face at the top represents the stingray "puru", the corpus carries emblems that are related to head hunting (flying fox "tar" and "bipane" motifs), as well as "ghost arms", collection number "12.037" In ancient warlike times, the "big men" of a village occasionally organized elaborate shield festivals "yamasj pokbui", during which numerous shields were carved, painted and solemnly consecrated. The celebrations were associated with headhunting processions, initiation ceremonies and served as a demonstration of power. The relationship between shield and owner was very close and the shields were of high symbolic and emotional value. When the owner died, the shield was split into two pieces lengthwise, covering the corpse wrapped in mats and laid out for burial. Alternatively, the shield could also be passed on to the son of the deceased.


Helfrich, Klaus u.a., Asmat, Berlin 1996, p. 143