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Shield (Grere'o [?])

Date:
early to mid-19th century
Geography:
Solomon Islands, Possibly New Georgia or Guadalcanal Island, Western province
Culture:
Solomon Islander
Medium:
Fiber, parinarium-nut paste, chambered-nautilus shell, pigment
Dimensions:
H. 33 1/4 x W. 11 x D. 1 1/2 in. (84.5 x 27.9 x 3.8 cm)
Classification:
Shell-Implements
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1972
Accession Number:
1978.412.730
  • Description

    The Solomon Islands form a double chain of large and small islands, situated east of New Guinea. As in the art of other Oceanic cultures, the central motif of art from the Solomon Islands is the human figure, rendered in an abstract and expressive style.
    The Solomon islanders are known for their woodcarving, particularly in canoe decoration and architectural ornament. They also fashioned war shields of wicker woven into an elliptical shape. This shield is one of very few existing examples that were completely painted over and inlaid with hundreds of tiny squares of luminous shell. The image on the shield is an elongated human figure, surrounded by decorative borders. Two disembodied faces peek from the wide band beneath the figure. It is hard to imagine that this fragile shield could have provided much protection in combat. In fact, such shields were probably used as ceremonial objects or as status symbols for men of high rank.

  • Provenance

    Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh, Scotland, until 1959; [John J. Klejman, until 1959]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1959,on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1959–1972; The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1972–1978

  • See also
    What
    Where
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
310073

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