About the object
The lance-shaped club is decorated with a snake motif, which terminates at the lower end in the representation of a human head. Colourfully painted areas suggest a headdress. The snake »Selam« is a mythological creature in the Huon Gulf area on the northeast coast of New Guinea, which can appear both as a snake and as a human being. Clubs of this kind were rarely deployed as actual weapons, but used in connection with boys' initiation rituals in mock fights. The snake's body has been carefully recessed into the wood and fashioned as a relief and inlayed with white chalk. The red and blue colour of the club was realised using European pigments, whereby the omission of paint in certain areas benefits the design, as the brownish black patina of the wood shows through. The back has been dyed with red pigments of European origin, but is otherwise devoid of decoration. The object comes from the Robert Beirer collection from Sipplingen, who worked for the New Guinea Company as a storeroom assistant at the end of the 19th century and sold a large collection to the Museum in Freiburg.