Melanesian Artefacts:

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Wapo Creek Gope Board (Papuan Gulf): illus map ref
Detail of Wapo Creek Gope Board (Papuan Gulf)
A Wapo Creek gope board from the Papuan Gulf
has a face with two circular eyes, a thin straight nose and an open crescent mouth carved in background relief on a board which has oval form and convexity. Above and below the face are carved a number of the conventional decorative elements of the area; matt weathered patina both front and back. Material: wood, ochre and white pigments; height: 1570mm; width: 270mm; thickness: 20mm.
Provenance:
Time and place of collection from the field is not known. Acquired by LukLuk Gallery in 1990.
The culture of Wapo Creek, where the leading group is the Gope, has men's houses divided with partitions into clan cubicles opening onto a central aisle. The upper parts of the partitions are grills, with a skull affixed to each aperture. The lower parts of the partitions are sheathed in bark slabs; in front of them stand the gope boards. These boards are, among other functions, protective beings who ward off sickness and other ills.
Discussion:
See 'Newton, D. 1961' - p.19 for an outline of the Wapo Creek culture and description of men's houses.
Comparison:
See 'Newton, D. 1961' - p.66 pl.150 for an example of a gope board with similar style and placement of design elements.
Artefact Code: ML0095

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Wapo Creek Gope Board (Papuan Gulf) Wapo Creek Gope Board (Papuan Gulf)

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New Guinea showing the region of Wapo Creek which runs into Era Bay on the Papuan Gulf

Map 1: New Guinea and the region of Wapo Creek which runs into Era Bay on the Papuan Gulf of Papua New Guinea

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References:

Newton, D. 1961
Newton, Douglas. ART STYLES OF THE PAPUAN GULF. The Museum of Primitive Art. BNo.: n/a. First Edition, 1961. Pp: 100; 285mm 220mm; 0.76kg. 265 b/w & fig, 2 maps. Acknowledgments, introduction, references, catalogue of exhibition. A very good copy in dust wrapper. The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1961. (The numerous cultures of the Papuan Gulf originated many different styles, all notable for their demonic vitality allied to intense sophistication of design. In this book the author describes the elaborate ritual life which has been the background of most of the art, and analyses the peoples' approach to both) (Keywords: Ethnology, cultural anthropology, Pacific, Melanesia, New Guinea, Kerewa, Moguru, Bamu, kauvai, Gogodara, Gogodala).

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