Choiseul Island, Solomon Islands, Melanesia, 19th century
Width : 17 cm
Provenance : Ulrich Kortmann, Dortmund
Publication : "KunstKammer"
(M. Doustar, 2017), n°57
Objects fashioned from the hard marble-like shell of the giant clam are prized by many Melanesian peoples, but the art of working giant clam shell (tridacna Gigas) reached its apogee in the Solomon Islands. The most complex clam shell objects are the barava, ornate openwork plaques created in the western Solomon Islands. The designs on some barava are geometric, but many -like the present one- include stylized human figures interspersed with forms that resemble faces, shown with spiral eyes and grinning mouths filled with minute teeth. Barava appear to have been associated with burial places and were reportedly used to adorn structures housing the skulls of prominent men or slain enemies or placed on graves. In the past, some brava formed part of vovoso, powerful charms carried in war canoes during headhunting expeditions to protect. the crew and ensure success.
An extremely similar barava fragment is in the collections of The Met, New York (1978.412.749).
Price : on request