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Gope Board

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RTCFA No. OC 0073
Gope Board
Artist: Unknown
Wood and natural pigments, 0.75 x 13 in. (128.9 x 33 cm).

Geographic Location: Papuan Gulf
Region: Melanesia
Group / Tribe: Elema

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 men’s 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. 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.

Provenance: From the collection of Richard Jones M.P., Sydney Australia.