Lot: 32

Spirit board "gope"

Papua New Guinea - Gulf of Papua, Era River Delta Area

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Philip Goldman, London, Great Britain
Franco Ignazio Castelli (1970)
H: 48.8 inch;
B: 13.4 inch
7000 EUR / 12000 EUR

wood, pigments, missing part Researchers' opinions differ as to whether the "gope" boards represent ancestral spirits or spirits of the bush. Their function has also not been clearly defined. On the one hand, they are said to have been important for warfare.It was told that spirits of such boards would go into battle with men who whorshipped it - both protecting them and causing confusion amongst the enemy. Furtheron the magical powers still had relevance to successful hunting. In any case they were of great magical significance and had a protective function. Depending on the Gulf region they come from, the ancestral boards have different names. Among the Elema they are called "hohao", in the Purari Delta "kwoi" and further west "kaiamuni". They were kept in the longhouses, where each family clan has its own niche. The painting of the carved boards with red ochre confered "heat", menace, or dangerous power "imunu" on these objects, and the addition of skulls, and age itself, increased "imunu".


Hamson, Michael, Red Eye of the Sun, Los Angeles 2010, p. 24 ff.