Description & Technical information

A very fine and remarkably elegant eating spoon in the shape of a stylized bird. The basic shape may actually represent the bird of paradise (Paradisaea raggiana) parading during the mating ritual or in flight. Cut from the curved section of a large nautilus shell it is an extremely functional though fragile item made with the utmost attention to structural strength and esthetic beauty. Asmat/Marind Region (not localized), South east Indonesian New Guinea, Melanesia.  Broken and glued. 

Period:  19th/20th century.
Origin:  Melanesia
Medium: Nautilus shell (Nautilidae) with a patina of use and age.
Dimensions: 15.5 x 5 cm (6¹/₈ x 2 inches)
Provenance: Mission of the Sacred Heart, Borgerhout, Belgium, collected by Rev. Father Vertenten before 1925. Acquired from Martin Baeten, Galerie Maori circa 2000.

Rev. Father Petrus Vertenten (born October 3, 1884 in Hamme, Deceased February 13, 1946 in Borgerhout) was a Belgian missionary of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart Mission in Dutch New Guinea.

Vertenten, a remarkable artist, worked from 1910 to 1925 on the south coast of Dutch New Guinea in the area of the Marind-anim, a Papuan people in the wider area of ​​Merauke, and can be described as an authority on the knowledge of them. Many pieces were collected by hm and other members of the mission and were sent back to Belgium where they were deaccessioned in the 1990’s.

Literature: Ref. :
R. Corbey: Snellen om namen; de Marind Anim van Nieuw-Guinea door de ogen van de Missionarissen van het Heilig Hart, 1905-1925. Leiden: KITLV Uitgeverij, 2007. ISBN 978-90-6718-302-4
H. van Royen: Pater Petrus Vertenten (1884-1946); een veelzijdig missionarís. Jaarboek IVa - Bijdragen tot de geschiedenis van het kanton Hamme 1996; Extra editie msc-kring, oktober 1996, jg. 5. Hamme / Borgerhout, 1996.
J. Vlamynck: De redder der Kaja-Kaja's: pater Petrus Vertenten. Tielt: Lannoo, 1949.

Categories: Tribal Art