Two Massim Figurative Lime Spatulas-New Guinea Art-Oceanic Art
Dear Harry, where art thou? While I have bought and sold hundreds of Massim objects in the last 25 years, every time I sit down to write something on a piece it always feels incomplete without having checked first with the preeminent Massim art expert Harry Beran. Now that Harry is gone at least I have a number of his documents that he was kind enough to share over the years. With regards to these two spatulas the one on the left is of the type Harry, being Harry, designated “Master of the Oral Projection” which is not a tongue but “represents the mucus that runs from the nose and mouth of a sorcerer when he dies” according to info Harry received from G.J.M. Gerrits. This style of spatula are all pre-1900 in origin according to Beran. The present one has the typical triangular shaped head, arms clasped to the chest and is probably female. Harry notes that
“In the Trobriands, sorcerers are male, but some women are flying witches. More recently, another Kitava informant has told me that when such a witch is on the point of sending an aspect of herself flying, some of her facial features, including her tongue, become enlarged and mucus may run from her mouth. Hence it is possible that the spatulas to flying witches.”
The spatula here comes from a Cornwall, England collection, stands 15 ½” (39.3 cm) in height and sells for $2800. On the right is a tall, very beautiful Massim spatula from the Seymour Lazar Collection. It features two full figures sitting back-to-back on a platform above a series of openwork scrolls. This spatula dates to the late 19th century, is 20 ½” (52 cm) in height and sells for $3200.