Description & Technical information

An extremely rare woman’s paddle with decorated blade. These decoration on the blade is known as homo, a term that can be translated as “writing” or ornamentation and refers both to sculpting and painting. Only the blade of the paddles used by women had carved patterns. The motif here represents a large stylized, mythological, double-finned fish or whale. In addition to aesthetically enhancing the object, homo gives information about the person, family, and village who owned it. Specific designs were used by particular groups of people and passed on from one generation to another and each family or clan had its own designs that were copyrighted. In addition, political alliances between villages were visualized by the use of certain motifs. The designs and ornaments have mythological origins in relation to spirits and ancestors. Women's boats were called kayi. The pointed pommel is decorated with five carved decorative rings and a double collar.

Period:  19/20th century
Origin:  Humboldt Bay area, North Coast, PNG, Melanesia
Medium: Kwila wood with a good patina of age and usage
Dimensions: 189 cm (74³/₈ inches)
Provenance: Collected by First Officer H. C. Hanewinkel of the Dutch Merchant Marine between 1930 and 1942. Acquired directly from the family by Maurice Stevens.
Literature: See a similar example in the Troppen Museum, Amsterdam, N° RV-370-3853

Ref. : 
Anna –Karina Hermkens (2006) ‘’ The Lake Sentani Region’’, in ‘’Shadows of New Guinea, Art of the Great Island of Oceania from the Barbier-Mueller Collections’’, Philippe Peltier et Floriane Morin (eds.), Paris: Somogy, pp. 58-60.

Kooijman, Simon and Jac. Hoogerbrugge (1992) "Art of Wakde-Yamna Area, Humboldt Bay, and Lake Sentani", in: "Art of Northwest New Guinea: from Geelvink Bay, Humboldt Bay, and Lake Sentani", Suzanne Greub, ed., New York: Rizzoli, pp. 82-84.
Categories: Sculpture