Unknown Artist

Yenda konambi (bark shield)

Not on display
Further information

Bark shields can be found across the highlands region, made by the Enga, the Duna, the Huli and the people in the West Mendi region.

The Enga of the highlands of Papua New Guinea number more than 100,000 people and live to the west of the Melpa speakers of Mount Hagen and to the north of the Mendi speakers of the southern highlands region. The largest linguistic group in PNG, they are reknowned as great warriors who once conducted the largest battles ever recorded in the highlands, according to anthropologist Mervyn Meggitt, who undertook fieldwork among the Enga in the 1950s.

This 'yenda konambi', or bark shield, comprises a rectangular sheet of bark from the 'konambi' tree, reinforced with 20 horizontal wooden slats bound to the back of the shield with rattan cane. A handle constructed from a split length of wood (possible a disused bow) runs down the length of the shield. It is not painted but heavily blackened from lengthy storage in the roof space of the warriors house and exposure to heat and smoke from open fires.

Place of origin
Enga Province, Papua New Guinea
Cultural origin
Enga people
mid 20th century
collected 1969
Arms & armour
bark, wood, rattan cane, smoke-blackened
137.5 x 42.0 cm
Purchased 1977
Accession number