Media File
Title: Ritual Shield (koka type)
Date: probably early 20th century
Culture: probably Telei
Cultural Region: Bougainville Island
Medium: wood and paint
20 1/2 x 19 13/16 in. (52 x 50.4 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Morton D. May
Object Number: 66:1977
Place associated: Bougainville Province, Papua New Guinea
Current Location: On View, Gallery 109
The double-headed figure in the center of this shield most likely represents a young man who is wearing the painted hat that marks someone from an initiatory society. Ritual shields were used by the Telei of southern Bougainville Island during ceremonies for the initiation of young boys in their transition to adult life. These shields were also shown during wedding ceremonies. Bougainville is one of the classically beautiful islands found throughout Island Melanesia. The waters are crystal clear and where there is a break in the reef, superb natural harbors can be found with heavily wooded slopes tumbling to the water.
- 1973
Everett Rassiga Inc., New York, NY, USA

1973 - 1977
Morton D. May (1914-1983), St. Louis, MO, purchased from Everett Rassiga Inc. [1]

1977 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, given by Morton D. May [2]

[1] An invoice dated February 22, 1973 from Everett Rassiga Inc. to Morton D. May documents ths purchase of this object, listed as "3669 Solomon Dance Shield" [May Archives, Saint Louis Art Museum].

[2] A letter dated March 1, 1977 from Morton D. May to James N. Wood, director of the Saint Louis Art Museum, includes the offer of this object as part of a larger donation [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Acquisitions Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, April 14, 1977.
Exhibition History
Title: Ritual Arts of the South Seas: The Morton D. May Collection
Date: August 22 – October 19, 1975
Venue: Saint Louis Art Museum
Publication History
Title: Oceanic Art
Year Published: 1997
Title: L'Art Océanien
Year Published: 1993
Title: Ritual Arts of the South Seas: The Morton D. May Collection
Year Published: 1975
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