Two Trobriand model canoe wash boards of double-scroll form, carved all over on one side with stylised frigate birds amongst scrolls, a crouching figure at the top.
The two Trobriand model canoe washboards are very fine. In the old days model canoes were used for competition races, held by men.
The smaller one is painted and has grooves on the back for slotting in the planks. So it was at least ready to be used on a model canoe
Harry Beran 2014.
Large: Height 22cm (8.75 inches) x Width 26cm (10.25inches)
Photo caption: Mailu boys play & learn to sail with model canoes some of which are large enough to support two boys in sailing operations. More training than play. Malinowski B 1915. Fig.3.
In 1904, early in his career, anthropologist Charles Seligman explored this region. He named it Massim and collected various artefacts, including a canoe model - made by the people of Kwaiawata Island - now kept in the collection of the Australian Museum. He obviously appreciated the singular importance of the canoe in community life – economic, social and spiritual. Ten years later, Seligman’s student Bronislaw Malinowski visited this province and conducted one of the seminal anthropological studies on the exchange network cantered on the Trobriand Islands.
At the end of the 20th century people from Kwaiawata still exchanged traditional shell ornaments with neighbours, and probably continue doing so for reasons that transcend subsistence or economic needs.