Skip to content

Collection

All

Search

Pacific art

View More:


Title

Vala saavi (canoe prow 'shield’)

mid 20th century
collected 1965


Artist

attrib. Warambu Kasagaui

Papua New Guinea


About

Along the reaches of the Middle and Upper Sepik River, 'shields' were affixed to the prows of 'kauvala' (war canoes), both to protect warriors from stray arrows and spears and to frighten enemies. Made from the tough petioles of the sago palm set into a framework of thick rattan cane, the surface of this 'vala saavi' is painted with white, black and ochre pigments and fringed with 'tuvu' (cassowary feathers).

A wooden mask is attached to the lower section of the sago bark panels. Spiral motifs painted across the chin of the mask are said to represent conus shells, while the red, black and white chevrons at the top of the shield possibly depict the waves and ripples of the river.

[entry from Exhibition Guide for 'Melanesian art: redux', 2018, cat no 21]


Details


Other Titles

Canoe prow ornament for head hunting raids

Savi (canoe prow mask)

Bowi sabi

Bowi savi


Cultural origin

Iatmul people


Dates

mid 20th century
collected 1965


Media category

Sculpture


Materials used

sago palm petioles, wood, shell fragments, natural pigments, cassowary feathers (Casuarius), cane


Dimensions

91.0 x 68.0 x 14.0 cm (excluding feathers)


Credit

Purchased 1965


Location

Not on display


Accession number

377.1994


Artist information

attrib. Warambu Kasagaui

Works in the collection

1


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history