Oceanic

Gope Board

Artist: Unknown

Culture/People: Elema

Place: Papuan Gulf; Melanesia

Media: Wood and natural pigments

Dims: 0.75 x 13 in. (128.9 x 33 cm)

Date: c. 1900

Description: The Elema people live on the long coast of Orokolo Bay in southern Papua New Guinea. The carved and painted boards depicted spirits of the bush which were also considered clan ancestors. These boards were carved by Elema men and were hung inside the ceremonial house (eravo). Hohao such as this one which depicts a whole human figure is rare. They did however, almost always prominently display the navel as it was seen as the place of origin of the clan. Ted Coe especially liked how this example showed another figure within the navel of the main figure, speculating that it possibly could represent the birth of the clan.

RTC No: OC0073

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Gope Board

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