This blog is a electronic museum of my collections of antiquities, ethnographic, first editions, retro pottery from the 1950's to early 1970's, shell, mineral and gemstone samples,fossils and other wonderful things! Comments are welcome on the objects including advice which will add to my own wonderment and knowledge.
Sunday, February 3, 2013
Biami Tribe Casowarry Bone Dager, circa 1945-1960 PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Provenance: Brought back from Papua New Guinea by an Australian missionary in the early 1960's Circa: 1945-1960 Age:Approx.65 -70 years old Size:30 cm long
Condition:Excellent with fantastic wear patina.
Up to the mid to late 1960's and perhaps later, the Biami of the Western Province were still to some extent practicing cannibalism. Their country on the Papuan Plateau had been rarely touched or penetrated by white men with the exception of Christian Missionaries who were swarming all over PNG in the hopes of another convert.
Historically, the Hides-O’Malley patrol of 1935 passed through part of this area. But, because of its remoteness and scattered population, very little patrolling was conducted until 1961 when a station was established at Nomad River by Mal Lang.
Patrolling after that initial contact gradually alowed white influence to flow into the region with varying degrees of confrontation.
In 1967 the area was still restricted to a certain extent. A National Geographic journalist visited the area and typical of that organisation at the time (and our white arrogance) was unbelievably angry and incensed to find he was not permitted into the area without an escort.
At that time missionaries were also restricted to just one or two a year. Just prior to 1970 journalist James Anderson was permitted to accompany a patrol conducted by Jani Darris-Wells. The result of that patrol was a book titled Cannibal; photographically a good depiction of the area but a little sensationalist.
Whenever we whites envoke the word 'cannibalism' we are beset with horrors and outrage. Of course it totally denies the evidence that in Mesolithic times and previous what were we doing? Well, of course the rest is history.
The peoples of Papua New Guinea are a wonderful and friendly people in my encouters with them from very early childhood (1965) through to this day. It is one of the last 'arks' on earth were there are species that have yet to be discovered. They are a people caught at the crossroads of development and the issue of conservation.