Oceania/South Pacific, Papua New Guinea, Admiralty Islands, ca. 19th century CE. A rare obsidian-bladed knife with a Paranarium Nut resin handle colored with earthy red, charcoal, and lime pigment. The blade is knapped, sharp on two edges, and the resinous handle wraps around it, light and with a gentle, spongy give that makes it pleasing to hold. Motifs of incised triangles call to mind oceanic waves or steep mountainsides. Size: 1.8" W x 11.75" H (4.6 cm x 29.8 cm)
When Europeans first made contact with the Admiralty Islands, they observed that the native people had elaborate markings on their bodies - burned cicatrices on the men, while the women were tattooed with series of short lines or cuts that were most likely made by obsidian blades. Some of the men also had their shoulders and arms tattooed in this same way.
Provenance: estate of the late Paul Wilkensen, Denver, Colorado, USA; Mr. Wilkenson worked for National Geographic and taught at Syracuse University, New York, USA
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