Artist: Unknown
Culture/People: Highlands
Place: Melanesia, Papua New Guinea, Mt. Hagan area, Wahgi Valley
Media: Wood, stone, and fiber/rattan
Dims: 28.25 x 25.5 x 1.5 in. (71.6 x 64.8 x 3.1 cm).
Date: Early 20th century
RTC No: OC0066


Highly valued, axes like this are sometimes included in a bride’s purchase price or as a marriage gift. The large, but slender stone blade is counterbalanced by a splayed end of wood and beautifully bound to the handle with fine woven cane work. These axes were rarely used in combat due to their fragility and large scale, but for special purposes.

Despite its heavy weight, it was likely worn on the hip during ceremonies enabling others to identify their g clan, as well as indicate a level of prestige.

It is from the Wahgi Valley in the Highlands area of New Guinea; an altitude of 5,500 ft. and surrounded by snow-capped peaks at 3,000-15,000 ft. People settled this area about 40,000 years ago and began farming about 8,000 BCE.

Do you have information about this artwork?

We'd love to hear about it.

Email Us

Please include the RTC No. in your email. Thank you!