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Title

Vala saavi (canoe prow 'shield’)

mid 20th century
collected 1965

Artist

attrib. Warambu Kasagaui

Papua New Guinea

Alternate image of Vala saavi (canoe prow 'shield’) by attrib. Warambu Kasagaui
Alternate image of Vala saavi (canoe prow 'shield’) by attrib. Warambu Kasagaui
Alternate image of Vala saavi (canoe prow 'shield’) by attrib. Warambu Kasagaui
  • Details

    Other Titles
    Canoe prow ornament for head hunting raids
    Savi (canoe prow mask)
    Bowi sabi
    Bowi savi
    Place where the work was made
    Yentchan Village Middle Sepik River East Sepik Province Papua New Guinea
    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
    Copyright

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    attrib. Warambu Kasagaui

    Works in the collection

    1

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  • 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]

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition