RARE & IMPORTANT 19TH C. BAGOBO WAR SHIELD W/ SHELL INLAY
Description: This extraordinarily beautiful war shield is in excellent condition and likely dates to the last quarter of the 19th century. It is impressively embellished with approximately 200 pieces of cut shell inlay and would have belonged to an esteemed warrior of high rank. It is carved from a single piece of wood and shows the elements of the Islamic influence which were so prevalent in the Southern Philippines. It features a beautiful flowing hourglass form and is decorated with channels of incised decoration with applied black soot paint. Much of its sides are adorned with short plugs of embedded Pig's hair. The two horizontal wood slates which are lashed with rattan gave the shield added strength and clearly indicate that it was made for fighting as opposed to a "dancing". In fact there is one arrow hole located about 10 inches above the central boss. It has a very old smoky patina acquired from years of age and use. In very good condition for its age yet it is missing its top horizontal bar as most old specimens are. It would have also had some kind of metal medallion on the central boss which is not present. There appears to be some professional restoration to the upper left corner (small area). A related, but less ornate, example can be seen in W.O. Oldman's "Illustrated Catalogue of Ethnographical Specimens" catalog #73, 1903-1908. This is the most stunning and impressive shield of its type you'll likely ever see offered for sale.
CF. "Land of the Morning" Treasures of the Philippine, San Francisco Craft & Folk Art Museum, page 28 figure 17.
Dimensions: Height 45" (114.5 cm), Width 20" (51 cm)
NOTE: The shield was photographed with a stark white background only because its hair showed up better