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Child's shield from Papua New Guinea
Orokaiva people, Oro Province, Papua New
AD late 1800s
Learning how to hunt and fight
Hunting and fighting require great skill, and boys in the western Pacific learn these techniques from an early age. Small boys would be given ‘toy’ shields such as this one made from wood.
Men continued to practise their fighting skills as a pastime, to amuse themselves and those who watched. They often hurled mock spears at moving targets made of banana palm, thrown along the ground.
Shields were not always used in fighting. Orokaiva people also used shields in shows of strength. If two groups met to agree upon an alliance, such as a marriage, they might first express their differences in a hostile demonstration. One line of warriors would crouch behind their shields and then charge towards the opposing group and retreat. A second line of warriors would then repeat the same action.