Massim ‘Wealth Stone’ Axe Blade, Milne Bay PNG, 19th c. or earlier
Handsome large Massim ‘Wealth Stone’ Axe Blade, of massive gently tapering form, carved from a banded fine green stone, with thick rounded body and tapered edge.
Milne Bay PNG, 19th c. or earlier
Condition: multiple chips & probable loss to end, all happened a long time ago with signs of natural wear to the damages.
These polished blades were highly treasured items of wealth & status in the Massim culture in the island groups off north-east New Guinea. Their value goes by size, but also by the beauty of the stone that is revealed by polishing: there was a huge effort in creating these items, and while some were mounted into an axe handle, they were not for use. They were an important part of the Kula trade network. They are very robust, and while we have dated ours to ’19th century’, it is quite plausible that they are many centuries older, passed from generation to generation. The example with the chips shows an amount of wear to the chip-sites, which can only happen through lots of handling – suggesting a very great age.
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