Sunday, May 3, 2009

SPIRIT BOARDS AND STORY BOARDS-Papua New guinea


I have looked for years for my little hard drive which stored over 200 photos from my trip to the big Island of Hawaii. I found it while cleaning my hall closet. It had been there for years untouched. I spent all day on Friday downloading the huge tiff files to my hard drive and renaming all of them.
I want to say that before I was interested in ARt and Science I was sure I wanted to be an anthropologist. I loved and was fascinated by anything that had to do with Island cultures. I read Kontiki when I was 13 and EAster Island and couldn't get enough of the shows on tv about foreign lands especially Island cultures, not because I wanted to live there but because I knew they knew something that we western folks didn't and that was a spirit world. I liked that idea as the church and kneeling and praying and large statues and long sermons were to me at an early age very boring and had no connection whatsoever to my life but rather the unknown.
The cultures that paid homage to spirit world or animal spirits made more sense as they were albeit not proven something more tangible and many of the totems they made were like American Indian cultures, paying tribute to lost loved ones or leaders that had passed on.
When I went to Hawaii I was stunned and thrilled by the incredible and extensive collection of Island artifacts. One of those that continued to thrill me was the Gope or spirit boards from Papua New Guinea. They were made from old canoes that broke or wore out and the men using everything and not wasting any part of nature(think about that every time we throw a plastic bottle in the garbage instead of recycling!) used these old canoes and made them into spirit boards to be used in the initiation ceremonies for young boys moving into manhood.
Here is an excellent site but there may be other that are better.
Spirit Board Site
here is a little synopsis of the board
"SPIRIT BOARDS AND STORY BOARDS
In the Gulf Province, Gope boards are believed to possess the spirits of powerful warriors, or to act as guardians of the village. Before hunting or war expeditions, the spirits were called upon to advise and protect the men.

Gope Boards are wooden ritual objects made in the Papuan Gulf of New Guinea. They represent spirits which can protect clans from sickness, evil spirits, and death.

Small un-named gope boards are often given to uninitiated boys, and a full size board is made by the uncle of a boy for his initiation ceremony. Also, warriors are awarded gope boards for each act of bravery they perform in battle (often made out of the enemies canoe). These gope boards vary in size, but can be up to six feet long and have a consistent elliptical shape. They are carved in relief and then painted with lime(white) and red ochre and other native paints. Most gope boards have a similar style and depict the face of an ancestral spirit.

Gope boards are also used in raids on other clans and headhunting missions. They are consulted as to which enemy to attack, and the spirits contained in the boards are thought to go ahead of the warriors to sap the enemies of their strength

Before Western contact, carvers used stone axes to cut the trees, sharp edges of mussel shells to smooth the boards and a shark's tooth to incise the lines. Some groups are reported to have used nails washed up from shipwrecks. Paint brushes were made from coconut fiber."
I will be posting other incredible finds from that trip over the next few weeks.
Enjoy Sunday!

2 comments:

Julie Magers Soulen said...

Fascinating! I have been to Hawaii, specifically Kauai, only once. I long to go back. Their culture is intriguing.

brunococo said...

Great posting, Clancy! I was mesmerized and loved the link as well. Glad you found that hard drive!

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I am a mother of 2 wonderful girls, grandmother of 4, don't worry you will see photos of them one day! I live in Sedona Arizona, a beautiful place, lots of sun and blue blue skies! I listen to politics and my favorite radio channel is Cinemix. I am the oldest of 11 , I love my kids, my parents and my siblings and my friends!!

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