Bone Dagger, Abelam, Sepik River Region, PNG, Early 20th Century

Early 20th Century
cassowary leg bone
42 x 6 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. This bone is particularly finely carved and has a deep honey colour from constant use and handling over many generations. These daggers can also be used ceremonially with men carrying them in armbands during dance.


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