DESIGN, GOLD, SILVER - GOLD OF PAPUANS – The Dying Art from New Guinea


The collection "Gold of Papuans - The Dying Art from New Guinea" consists of carved ceremonial figures and masks, artifacts used by Papuans during their daily rituals, as well as ethnic jewelry. It is the biggest private collection of tribal art from Papua New Guinea in Poland and most likely in Eastern Europe. The collection has been completed for several years by collectors, travelers and explorers: Mirosław Banach and Sebastian Błaszczyk.

The presentation of the Gold of Papuans collection during the Amberif will be the first opportunity to see it in the Tri-City. It is a unique opportunity to admire and purchase exhibits of tribal art that were created out of the spirit of the indigenous people of distant New Guinea. Works of art, created by anonymous artists, which were practically used for both current rites and ceremonial traditions - a testimony to the true cultural identity of the Papuans.

- The attraction of New Guinea’s art lies in its diversity and creativity. Over the centuries, Papuans have produced a wide range of unique sculptures designed to communicate and interact with the spirit world, as well as occasional ceremonies and daily rites. Although the sculptures were often created by the Papuans for the same purpose and had some things in common, each subsequent one was a new interpretation of the artist’s sculptor, constituting a separate work of art. The ceremonial sculptures were considered by the indigenous Papuans as spiritual, and even lively, they gave them unique names, and during their creation additional rituals were carried out. Most of these objects can be compared with the greatest sculptural masterpieces in the world. Perversely, it was the tribal art that was followed by artists recognized all over the world, including Pablo Picasso - says Sebastian Błaszczyk, co-owner of the Gold of Papuans collection.

- Tribal art, although still little known in Poland, is highly appreciated in Western Europe, Australia, Japan and the United States. Compared to other types of tribal art, it is the art from Papua New Guinea that is the most sought after, as it is still considered the most mysterious, unexplored and diverse. It is also undoubtedly a dying art, which captures the imagination of collectors around the world. Every now and then you can come across information about Papuan sculptures sold for a dizzying amount of one million dollars at auctions of leading auction houses in Paris, London or New York - says Mirosław Banach, co-owner of the Gold of Papuans collection.

As part of the AMBERIF fair, selected masks, sculptures, utility artifacts and tribal jewelry will be presented. The main attraction will be an absolutely unique mask from the Ramu river area. The second known mask of this type in the world, although smaller, which is undoubtedly made by the same artist, is located in the de Young Museum in San Francisco, where the Jolika collection is presented, the most famous collection of Papuan tribal art in the world.
The title of the collection - Gold of Papuans - symbolizes the perversity and paradox of the fate of the Papuans. The discovery of the precious metal in New Guinea and the mass mining in the second half of the 20th century was one of the key reasons, indirectly influencing the fall of the tradition and, consequently, the abandoning of the tribal art, making today’s Papuans culturally poorer and increasingly dependent on the outside world. Esoteric works of art, present in villages even for several hundred years, Papuans gave white people for a song, receiving the proverbial pack of cigarettes. Today, the same works of art have become more valuable than the gold. While those carvings record prices on world markets often exceeding one million dollars, Papuans are focused on making souvenirs for tourists, masks and sculptures, poor copies of originals, which give a profit of several dollars each.