The Man Who Cannot Die: Phantom Shields of Papua New Guinea

Michael Reid OBJECT is pleased to present a curated selection of rare Papuan New Guinea Highland War Shields.

From North American Western culture, to Melanesia, the ‘Phantom’ image first began to appear on New Guinea Highland shields in the 1980s as pop culture articles began to filter in from soldiers and occupying personnel. Phantom painted shields were a spontaneous development by the young warriors who were the first generation to be able to read the left behind comics. With Independence, and less autocratic rule, warfare emerged once more; old shields were reused and new ones made. For the modern day warrior it was the Phantom’s protection of village people (albeit set in Africa) and above all his immortality (The Man Who Never Dies) that served as inspiration. Today, Phantom Shields of Papua New Guinea remain as rare artefacts marking the peculiar effects of cross-cultural influences.

This presentation is online and on display in our Chippendale gallery.

  • Unknown Artist
    Phantom in Blue with Pistol, 1980s-1990s

    170 × 72 cm


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