Huon Gulf Ovula Shell Pectoral-New Guinea Art-Oceanic Art
It has been a while since I have one of these rare Huon Gulf ovula shell pectorals. But back in 2016 for my exhibition and catalog “Between the Known and Unknown: New Guinea Art from Astrolabe Bay to Morobe” I was fortunate to have six. In my research at the time, I came across the great Hungarian ethnographer Lajos Bíró’s notes on one example of these round shell pectorals collected in Sattleberg that the Kai people called Dzono: “A kind of amulet; the Kai parted with it only very reluctantly, after long persuasion and for a high price. I had to make a very strong promise that I would wrap it up, not show it to anyone, not do anything bad with it that would cause his death. First, he repeatedly stabbed the kamata with a bone awl and then calmed down and no longer repeated what he had been saying: ‘I will die, I will die!’” The present example comes a St. Louis private collection, dates to the late 19th century, is 10 ¼” (26 cm) in diameter and sells for $1800. Questions?