Shields of Mendi Valley

Shields (Wörrumbi), 20th CenturyMendi culture; Southern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea, MelanesiaWood, pigments and fiber; Various Dimensions2017.10.163, 2003.43.3, 2017.10.143Anonymous Gift On the Mendi In an early 20th Century effort to pacify Papua New Guinea, Australian colonial administrators began a campaign of suppressing tribal warfar...

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Under the Hilt: Identifying Three Japanese Swords

Short Sword (Wakizashi), 15th to 19th CenturyTsuguhiro (Japanese, active 1469-1521), Jiryūsai Tomohide (Japanese, 1778-1847) and Seiyōken Akitada (Japanese, active 19th Century); Fukui Prefecture, Chūbu Region, Japan and Nagasaki, Kyushu Region or Tokyo, Kantō Region, JapanSteel, manta ray skin, lacquer, silk and iron; 2 3/4 x 2 3/8 x 27 1/4 in.200...

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Hefty Sum: Central African Throwing Knife Currency

Throwing Knife, 19th CenturyKapsiki culture; Cameroon or NigeriaIron, rubber and cloth; 24 1/8 x 5 3/8 in.2003.43.91Anonymous GiftThrowing Knife (Ngwolo), 19th CenturyNgombe culture; Democratic Republic of the CongoIron, wood; 19 3/8 x 12 1/2 in.2003.43.92Anonymous GiftThrowing Knife (Sengese), 19th CenturyMafa culture; Cameroon or NigeriaIron, fib...

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Taking Root and Stock: Naturally Formed Fijian Clubs

Rootstock Club (Vunikau), mid 19th CenturyFiji, MelanesiaWood; 46 x 3 1/2 x 3 3/8 in.2020.5.1Bowers Museum Purchase Hit Square with a Root The fundamentals of warfare are in large part the same across all cultures and all times: there is a point of contention and so the sides—whatever they might be—rally a force and attack an enemy with weapons. As...

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Whatsits and Whatnots: Bowers Permanent Collection Oddballs

Detail of 2003.50.37Gift of William R. Moran  Weird and Just Downright Weird As part of an ongoing project to classify the Bowers Museum’s collections, our Collections team has reached many an oddball object that does not easily fall into standard categories. Many more have outlandish or wonderfully rare names. Today’s post is a celebration of...

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That’s Got to Sting: Barbed Blades from the Admiralty Islands

Dagger, 19th Century Admiralty Islands, Bismarck Archipelago, Manus Province, Papua New Guinea, MelanesiaWood, stingray barb, fiber and beads 2019.20.2Bowers Museum Purchase Blade with a Barb The Bowers Blog has previously spent a lot of time focusing on the art of Admiralty Islands, a small chain located in Papua New Guinea’s Bismarck Archipelago....

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Two-Face: An Unfinished Tongan Paddle Club

Details of Paddle Club (Mougalaulau), mid 19th CenturyTonga, PolynesiaWood; 45 ½ in.2019.19.1Bowers Museum Purchase; Photograph courtesy of Michael Hamson Endless Buffering The towering spires of Antoni Gaudí’s Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, the fragmented narrative of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Love of the Last Tycoon or Michelangelo’s unfinished ...

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Blade with a Beak: New Guinean Bone Daggers

Bone Daggers (Yina and Amia Ava), 20th CenturyAbelam and Iatmul culture; East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, OceaniaCassowary bone and pigment2010.22.5-.31Gift of Anne and Long Shung Shih They do Move in Herds Unassuming dinosaurs of the modern era that they are, cassowaries are incredible creatures. For example, though flightless the...

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At Harms Length: Shark Tooth Spears of the Gilbert Islands

Spear Heads (Tataumanaria), late 19th CenturyI-Kiribati culture; Gilbert Islands, Kiribati, MicronesiaPalm wood, shark teeth and sennit; various dimensions2019.6.1-.2Gift of Anne and Long Shung Shih Into the Maw The Bowers Museum’s continued efforts to improve our Oceanic Collections has driven the acquisition of several shark tooth weapons from th...

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Bring a Shark to a Knife Fight: Short Blades of the Gilbert Islands

Knife (Tebutu), 19th CenturyI-Kiribati culture; Gilbert Islands, Kiribati, MicronesiaPalm wood, tiger shark teeth (galeocerdo cuvier) and sennit; 6 1/2 in.2019.3.1Bowers Museum Purchase War Changes Quite a Bit If humans have consistently been innovative in any one field, it is in the discovery of more effective ways to injure one another. Often hea...

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Progenitor Protection: Wooden Shields of the Asmat

War Shields, 20th CenturyCentral and Northern Asmat culture; Papua (Irian Jaya) Province, Indonesia, MelanesiaWood, pigment and sago-frond; Various Dimensions2017.10.148, L.2010.4.4, F75.16.1 and 2006.19.1Anonymous Gift, Bowers Museum General Acquisition Fund Purchase, Loan courtesy of Gayle and Edward P. Roski and Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Meyer Bello ...

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Fijian Kiakavo Dance Clubs

Dance Clubs (Kiakavo), 19th CenturyFiji, PolynesiaWood, fiber and pigment97.138.13, .17, and 2015.17.10Anonymous Gift and The George Stanley Lodin CollectionTwo late 19th Century  Fijian men hold clubs across their laps for a staged photograph. Bowers Museum CollectionGift of Mr. E. Morgan StanleyFijian Club SceneUp until and in the few d...

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The Niue Club in Town

Cleaving Club (Ula-fumiti), early to mid 19th CenturyNiuean culture; Niue Island, PolynesiaWood; 68 7/8 x 5 x 1 ¼ in.2018.4.1Bowers Museum Purchase Behold the Cook-o-nut Captain Cook was the first European to travel to Niue, a small island in the middle of Polynesia, when he landed ashore late in the spring of 1774. His welcome to the small tropica...

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