Mendi Shield-New Guinea Art-Oceanic Art
This is one of the earliest Mendi shields from the New Guinea’s Southern Highlands to hit the market. It is the first one I can find at auction—having originally sold at Sotheby’s New York on November 15 1985, lot 18. You see the first examples in Australian museums coming out from the Highlands in the late 1950s and I’m told that the Sydney-based dealer Geoff Carey started selling them in the 1970s but this and one other at the same sale are the earliest ones at auction by far. It is an especially fine example of beautiful oval shape bisected by a medial ridge with a classic motif of triangles and semicircles in red, white and yellow pigments. There are definitive signs of battle and a well-worn dark patina on the reverse. The shield dates to the early/mid 20th century, is 52 ¼” (132.5 cm) in height.