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PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Spear Finial, Manus Island, Admiralty Islands, Manus Province, Papua New Guinea
Estimate
7,00010,000
LOT SOLD. 8,750 USD
JUMP TO LOT
16

PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Spear Finial, Manus Island, Admiralty Islands, Manus Province, Papua New Guinea
Estimate
7,00010,000
LOT SOLD. 8,750 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

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Spear Finial, Manus Island, Admiralty Islands, Manus Province, Papua New Guinea

Provenance

Alexander Morrison, Singleton, New South Wales
Don Morrison, Singleton, New South Wales, by descent from the above
John Magers, Sydney, acquired from the above
Aaron & Joyce Furman, Sintra, acquired from the above in 1976
Thence by descent

Catalogue Note

Ingrid Heerman states that the art of the Admiralty Islands often uses the human form in combination with the animal, particularly representations of the lizard or, as is the case in the present lot, the crocodile. This combination of these human and animal forms may lead the observer to wonder 'about the transformations hinted at and the relationship between men and the ancestors possibly thus depicted.' (Heerman in Conru, ed., Bismarck Archipelago Art, 2014, p. 106).

Here the upper jaw of a crocodile appears on the back of the male figure, who has the prognathous chin and bellicose expression typical of 'Manus style' objects. He has characteristically elongated and pierced earlobes, armbands, and lime filled motifs on his legs, which depict scarification marks. Extensive trade between the different islands means that it is difficult to consider any object 'a definite cultural marker for any single group' (ibid., p. 84), although by repute this particular spear comes from the coastal Matankol (or Matankor) people, who Heerman notes were regarded as the most 'inventive group' (ibid.). Slightly unusual here is the depiction of what appears to be a pectoral ornament, the form of which suggests it may represent a bird. It is possibly a frigate bird, which was symbolically 'important to fishermen […] as a messenger' (Kaufmann, et al., eds., Admiralty Islands, 2002, p. 45). The feathers of the frigate bird were used in the famous warriors' nape ornaments, which were reportedly made by the Matankol.

The blade of the present spear is obsidian, several forms of which occur in the Admiralty Islands. Parkinson states that the blades were made by specialist knappers (Parkinson, Dreissig Jahre in der Südsee, 1907, p. 373), but there is no early account of how the blades were hafted. Here the blade is bound to the top of the figure with fine fiber. This intricate binding has then been painted to accentuate its patterns, and adorned with red and white trade beads.

Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

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New York