Pestle carved from stone, in the form of a slender, elongated bird with a long neck curving into a stylised head. Half way along the length of the body are rounded, forward-facing wings and a short tail. The base of the pestle is a bulb of rounded cylindrical form.
- 6000BC-2000BC (approx)
- Found/Acquired: Aikora River
- (Oceania,Melanesia,New Guinea,Papua New Guinea,Oro,Aikora River)
- Height: 36.2 centimetres (approx)
- Width: 7.3 centimetres (approx)
- Depth: 9.1 centimetres (approx)
Information from Pacific Art in Detail: The earliest agricultural people of New Guinea are traceable through archaeology rather than oral history. This stone pestle in the form of a bird is very delicately carved, therefore, it was probably only used on ritual occasions. It testifies the early existence of a complex society with ceremonial system and it also indicates the persistence of the cultural importance of birds, which were to become persuasive in Pacific myth and cosmology.
1977 London, BM, Animals in Art
2009 1 May-20 Sep, Victoria, Royal BC Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2010 Sept-Dec, London, BM History of the World 100 objects
2011-2012 25 Oct-5 Feb, Perth, Western Australian Museum, Extraordinary Stories from the British Museum
2014-2016, Japan & USA, History of the World 100 objects PROMISED (ongoing)
6 November 2013
Reason for treatment
Improve old fill in the centre.
The piece is sound and stable some surface dirt. Two previously restored breaks are present, one to the neck, one below the wings. The latter had been scratched, exposing the white fill beneath the paint. Much of the paint had darkened with age and was therefore unsightly. Several scratches were present to grinding end of the pestle and to the small pad attached to it.
Some localised cleaning using Acetone (propan-1-one/dimethyl ketone) and deionised water 1:1, applied using a cotton swab. The darkened paint on the fill beneath the wings was removed using Acetone, and then retouched using Rowney's Cryla colours (acrylic) to match the surrounding stone.The scratches were "knocked back’ to blend with surrounding original material using Rowney's Cryla colours (acrylic).
Africa, Oceania & the Americas
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Object reference number: EOC12572
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