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Bark Belt

Artist/Maker: Artist Unknown (Artist Unknown)

Date: early 20th century
Medium: bark, pigment, twine and shell buttons
Overall (Coiled): 5 x 8 3/8 in. (12.7 x 21.3 cm)
Classification: Clothing, Accessories and Jewelry
Credit Line: Gift of The Rubin - Ladd Foundation
Object number: 2005.43.27
DescriptionThe main item of “clothing” worn by Papuan men is a wide belt of incised and painted bark. The owner himself may make such a personal item or he may get an expert to do it or at least help him with finishing touches. Such belts also are given as gifts or used in ceremonial exchanges. The abstract undulating patterns seen here are quite typical of the Papuan Gulf region as are the faces with huge round eyes. They are the bloodshot eyes of a great warrior or sorcerer looking for his enemies. The triangular forehead is darkened for emphasis because the brow is associated with warfare and thunderclouds.
Not on view