Rare Hand Carved Wood & Mother of Pearl Chief Power staff, magic amulet meant to intimidate & scare evil spirits, Trobriand

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Ebony Wood

Rare Hand Carved Wood & Mother of Pearl Chief shaman Power staff, magic amulet used for power &  to intimidate & care evil spirits, Trobriand Islands, Massim Culture, Kula Ring, South Pacific

Power symbol unique hand carved detailed lace work of people's spirits climbing on top of each other.
 Item 1A7 in our inventory
Size: 25,5"X 1,5"
(Seen on all the photos)
A masterpiece of intertwined hand carved art as delicately carved as i-v-o-r-y carvings and representing a series of 1/2 man 1/2 animal symbolic figures.

This totem effigy Chief Power Staff is incredible with magnificent minute detail, work and symbolism and we purchased it from the chief while in the tribal village

This was the staff of a tribal chief  and it is exquisite, one of the finest intense work we have ever found, from a master carver (from the Massim region)

 (seen on photo 1 and following ones)

A sign of power and riches in the remote Trobriand Islands. South Pacific Art.

(handcarved with extreme minute detail) with many enhancing inlaid mother of pearl motifs.

This Figural Totem was part of our private collection and is seen on all the pictures here.

Some motifs intertwined within each other, mythical meanings often appear in the sculptor's dream and work.... Such a statuette is very detailed and hard to carve especially since Ebony is a very hard wood. This is spectacular in detail and mastery and was collected 25 years ago. 

The piece was carved as well to use during the Kula trade, a means of exchange or gifts between islands on the sea-going-canoe route, it was just also an important exchange item valued as currency between different islands and was stored in the chief’s hut as a valuable or handled during festivities or political discussions.



This is a beautiful completely hand carved hand crafted Melanesian (remote Massim region) kwila piece, seen on many of the photos, and adorned with many inserts  created from circles of mother of pearl: these little circles or tears of pearl shell are glued wth natural gum glues or sap obtained from trees, after an insert is first created to fit them.

 Collected in the isolated Trobriands, PNG , this object is beautifully carved by a local master carver with rudimentary tools. Amazingly perfect considering the basic tools used such as pieces of broken shells, rusted nails from shipwrecks found on the beaches, and sea ray, shark skin or an animal horn or tusk rubbed for days against the surface till all is smooth, among other sanding materials, which produces a nice sheen on the wood. It is very hard to come across such collectibles unless you go there.

These beautiful art pieces are rare items of the Kula ring. We collected them while in the field in these remote rarely visited islands north of  Papua New Guinea. We collected many beautiful pieces while in the Trobriands from carvings (created out of kwila, rosewood and ebony) to costumes, drums and Kula ring exchange items that we list whenever we have time.

We show pictures of people and yam houses we took when we went there.

In these islands which are rarely visited, outside influence is at a minimum. The extremely skilled carvers inspire themselves from what is around them as they have access to nothing else: the natives, birds, fish, pigs, marine turtles, snakes and whatever they see in their dreams such as dragons or mystical figures.

Some of these items have very important meanings as they are used as part of the Kula ring trade system that has existed between the islands for centuries.

The Kula ring is a system of exchange involving annual inter-island visits between trading partners who exchange highly valued shell ornaments and other things during year long sea travels.

In his Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922), Malinowski analyzed the kula ring, the exchange of shell valuables in a circle around the chain of the . These ornaments were traded from island to island in a counter-clockwise direction: A long time ago when the days were longer and the nights shorter lived a hero called Tava who at times took the form of a snake. Tava was known to pass between the villages that are identified as the active . When he was present in a village the people were said to have good fortune and prosper. His location was known only to one woman in each village and she would feed and tend to him. If he felt mistreated or betrayed at any time he would move on to the next island. On his departing the good fortune would also depart with him. He would nevertheless leave each village with a trade.

This trade ranged from a surplus of pigs and yams in the Trobriands to the fine art or pottery found in the Amphletts. Other places became known for obsidian and Betel nut. It is believed that this myth could be one of the origins of the and the way it functions. Kula is a ritualized trading culture existing in eastern which the Trobriands are part of. It is essentially network of villages joined by a common trade route, known as the . By analogy, Kula allows you to experience the magic and legends of . Kula was and still is a life sustaining cultural exchange. It is unfortunate that much of the time and energy that was used in the past to hold together the social foundation is now being clouded with the desire for money, a by-product of a tourism-based economy. With influences such as these and the advancement of technology, the intricate pattern in which traditional values are based is slowly eroding. Kula is the basis of mental and physical well-being. The has always been associated with making contact with far off neighbors. Traditionally two kinds of items were traded; arm bands carved from the toea shell know as Mwali and spondylus shell necklaces, Soulava. Each of these items was traded individually. Mwali and Soulava traveled in opposite directions around the (group of islands). Mwali passed anticlockwise in the ring and were given with the right hand, the Soulava passed clockwise and was offered with the left hand, first between villages then from island to island.

Such pieces are created & used by the indigenous people of the most primitive areas of Papua New Guinea. These proud people have managed, in the face of continued government and missionary pressure, to maintain a culture of incredible depth and beauty. For the most part, they still live by the same methods as have existed in their remote land for thousands of years.

All our collector and rare items come with pages and pages of research about provenance, and with history of the tribes and photos as well, depending on item and whenever possible. When shipping internationally, we group ship multiple purchases to save you money, and find the best rates available. If you have any questions or want to see research conducted on this piece and photos of tribes, let us know.