Asmat Ritual Shield with TurtlesSKU: IPS5
This wooden shield comes from the Indonesian South West Papua region Asmat. These shields were an important part of warfare and headhunting back in the days for the Asmat people.
The shield is carved with natural symbols of their landscape such as the trees, plants and animals. The figure on the top represents an ancestor in whose name this shield is made. The position of the figures symbolizes the courage and strength of the ancestor, which is meant to scare the enemy. These shields were used during a headhunting ritual prior to a headhunting expedition. The carrier of the shield would get the courage, strength and invulnerability of these ancestors before going into warfare or an headhunting raid at that time. Nowadays, these shields are still used in rituals and ceremonies. Sometimes they are also placed as guards next to the door of a ceremonial house when the men are preparing the rituals. It is to keep bad spirits as well as women and children out until the ceremony begins.
This Asmat shield is 104 cm tall and 56 cm wide. The shield is in very good condition, but it might show signs of insect degradation or utilitarian use that are consistent with its age.