Skip to content

Collection

All

Search

Pacific art

View More:


Title

Wörrumbi (shoulder shield)

mid 20th century
collected 1969


Artists

Unknown Artist


About

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, warfare between Mendi tribes and clans was rife. Wooden fighting shields were commonly carried in mass battles, where fighters decorated their bodies with oil, paint, feathers and leaves. The 'wörrumbi' was carried by bowmen in open lines of combat. Carved from a solid piece of hardwood, and slung from the shoulder by a strap threaded through the centre of the shield, the 'wörrumbi' was very effective against bone-tipped arrows and spears.

'Wörrumbi' shields are noted for their distinctive ridge or 'mesha' (spine). This forms a central axis for pecked, incised and painted forms that symmetrically cover the surface. The designs are believed to represent anthropomorphic figures and they are typically coloured with red ochre and white mineral pigment traded in from the west. This shield also has two small holes at the top to which bird plumes were secured.

[Exhibition text for 'Plumes and pearlshells: art of the New Guinea highlands', AGNSW, 2014]


Details


Cultural origin

Mendi people


Dates

mid 20th century
collected 1969


Media category

Arms & armour


Materials used

wood, punctated designs, white, red and blue pigments, vine sling


Dimensions

128.0 x 43.0 x 2.0 cm


Credit

Purchased 1977


Location

Not on display


Accession number

266.1977



Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Referenced in 3 publications

Bibliography


John Baily., Special exhibitions at the Art Gallery of South Australia: Seventh Adelaide Festival of Arts 1972, 'Art of Oceania', Adelaide, 1972. cat.no. 104; not paginated

Tony Tuckson, Melanesian art, Sydney, 1966, 30 (illus.), 50. H26; titled 'Shield'

Natalie Wilson (Editor), Plumes and pearlshells: art of the New Guinea highlands, Sydney, 2014, 93 (colour illus.), 161. cat.no. 37