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Title: Battle Shield
Date: early to mid-20th century
Cultural Region: probably Wahgi Valley
Medium: wood, arrowheads, red ochre, charcoal, rope, and rattan
Dimensions:
51 3/4 x 23 5/8 in. (131.5 x 60 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Leif J. Sverdrup
Object Number: 92:1977
Place of origin: Western Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea
Current Location: Not On View
Notes:
This shield is stone-carved and painted with clan designs in red and black. It probably held small feathers in the little holes around the painted designs. The binding over the top of the shield suggests that someone living in the Wahgi Valley made this shield. Unlike imagery used in other areas in the Highlands, the designs painted on Wahgi shields do not seem to have any meaning apart from reflecting individual identity. There are at least ten arrowheads embedded in its surface from use in battle.
Provenance
c.1939-1945 - 1977
General Leif J. Sverdrup (1898-1976) and Helen L. Sverdrup, St. Louis, MO, USA, collected by General Sverdrup during World War II in Papua New Guinea [1]

1977 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, given by Mrs. Leif J. Sverdrup [2]


Notes:
[1] A note on the accession record indicates this object was “collected by General L. J. Sverdrup in World War II” [SLAM document files].

[2] A letter dated May 18, 1977 from Lee Parsons of the Saint Louis Art Museum to Mrs. L. J. Sverdrup acknowledges the gift of this object [Director’s Office, Donor Correspondence, Archives, Saint Louis Art Museum]. Minutes of the Acquisitions Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, April 14, 1977.

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