Lot 3
  • 3

Spirit Board, Gope Ethnic District, Gulf of Papua, Papua New Guinea

30,000 - 50,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • wood
  • Height: 53 in (134.5 cm)

Field number '297' and collection date '4.4.66' in pencil to the reverse


Collected in the village of Buri (Gope ethnic district) by Thomas Schultze-Westrum on April 4, 1966
Private Collection, Germany

Catalogue Note

This well preserved spirit board, kópe, shows every sign of having been executed using only the traditional tools of mussel shell, boar’s tusk, and bone chisel. The wood used to shape important kópe boards such as this was taken from canoes conquered in head-hunting raids.

The present kópe "originates from the classical period of art unfolding in the region east of Kerewo, at an early stage of the Gope ethnic conformation. It was made in Old Meagoma that does not exist anymore - this parental village had been established from the innovative tribal center of Imigibi/Mure, located further west on the Ivi River [...] Below the face, multiplied elements indicate the building of a gradually (over the generations) evolving body with arms and legs; it is characteristic for the ethnic entities east of Kerewo (Urama, Gope, Era-Kipaia) that an anthropomorphous trunk is only designed as a supplemenary feature – the stylisized titi [motifs] components being originally taken from the head: mouth and nostrils. These elements were applied as independent design motives, but their anatomical descent can still be recognized. The lower lips are commonly split. The entire titi can be twisted 90 or 180 degrees and the nostrils superimposed upon the (open) mouth." (Thomas Schultze-Westrum, private communication).