Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Welcome to the Spencer Collection

  • Papua New Guinea
  • shield, late 1900s–1977
  • Where object was made: May River, East Sepik, Papua New Guinea
  • wood, pigment, plant fiber, carving
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: 172.5 x 34 x 11.5 cm
    Object Height/Width/Depth: 67 7/8 x 13 3/8 x 4 1/2 in
  • Gift of Jean S. Lighton
  • Not on display
  • 2007.4187

The very long narrow shield is rounded at both ends. The entire front of the shield is carved in low relief and colored with natural pigments. Along the sides is a thin border, with small triangular notches on one side. Down the center are six rounded diamond shapes with either two circles or scroll shapes carved inside them. The two diamonds with circles may be stylized human faces. On either side of where the diamond shapes join together are small oval shapes. There is also a ridge down the center of the shield that has small notches cut into it about every inch. The raised portions of the relief carvings are brown, created by using fire to darken the surface. The recessed parts along both sides and inside the diamonds at the ends is filled with an orange pigment. The recessed outlines of the diamonds and the inside of the diamonds closer to the center are filled with a beige colored pigment. The diamond at the very center of the shield is filled with a very light brown pigment.
The back of the shield has been slightly charred. There are four small round, raised handles carved from the wood in the center of the back of the shield. Between two of the small handles is a twisted loop of plant fiber.