Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Shield (Grere'o [?])

early to mid-19th century
Solomon Islands, Possibly New Georgia or Guadalcanal Island, Western province
Solomon Islands
Fiber, parinarium-nut paste, chambered-nautilus shell, pigment
H. 33 1/4 x W. 11 x D. 1 1/2 in. (84.5 x 27.9 x 3.8 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1972
Accession Number:
Not on view
The Solomon Islands form a double chain of large and small islands, situated east of New Guinea. As in the art of other Oceanic cultures, the central motif of art from the Solomon Islands is the human figure, rendered in an abstract and expressive style.
The Solomon islanders are known for their woodcarving, particularly in canoe decoration and architectural ornament. They also fashioned war shields of wicker woven into an elliptical shape. This shield is one of very few existing examples that were completely painted over and inlaid with hundreds of tiny squares of luminous shell. The image on the shield is an elongated human figure, surrounded by decorative borders. Two disembodied faces peek from the wide band beneath the figure. It is hard to imagine that this fragile shield could have provided much protection in combat. In fact, such shields were probably used as ceremonial objects or as status symbols for men of high rank.
Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh, Scotland, until 1959; [John J. Klejman, until 1959]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1959,on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1959–1972; The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1972–1978

Museum of Primitive Art. Masterpieces in the Museum of Primtive Art: Africa, Oceania, North America, Mexico, Central to South America, Peru. Handbook series. New York, NY: Museum of Primitive Art, 1965, 51.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Art of Oceania, Africa, and the Americas from the Museum of Primitive Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1969, no. 69.

The American Federation of Arts. Primitive Art Masterworks: an exhibition jointly organized by the Museum of Primitive Art and the American Federation of Arts, New York. New York: The American Federation of Arts, 1974, no. 116.

Newton, Douglas. Masterpieces of Primitive Art: The Nelson A. Rockefeller Collection. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978, p. 18, 136.

Kjellgren, Eric. Oceania: Art of the Pacific Islands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007, 99, 168-9.

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