Bone Dagger, Abelam people, Sepik River region, PNG, Mid-20th Century

mid-20th Century
cassowary leg bone
46 x 7 cm

The leg bone of the cassowary is used in many parts of New Guinea as a fighting implement, with the knuckle forming a handle, and the end lethally sharpened. In the Sepik River region, especially among the Abelam, these bones are deeply engraved with motifs, that can be abstract, but also often include an ancestral form or face. Among the Sepik people these daggers are also worn in armbands ceremonially, and men carry them during dance.

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