Dance paddle (kai-diba)

DATE:
Mid–19th century
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Wood, paint
CLASSIFICATION:
Tools and Equipment
DIMENSIONS:
8 1/8 × 26 1/2 × 3/4 in. (20.64 × 67.31 × 1.91 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of the Pacific Islands
LOCATION:
Not On View
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, The Roberta Coke Camp Fund
COPYRIGHT:
Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art
OBJECT NUMBER:
1975.4

General Description

The southeastern tip of Papua New Guinea and several off-shore archipelagoes—among them the d'Entrecasteaux, Trobriand Islands, and Marshall Bennett Islands—collectively form the culture area called Massim. Massim art is best known for the ornamental low-relief carving that is applied to lime spatulas, shields, clubs, neckrests, and objects for display and ceremonial use, such as canoe prows and dance paddles. Scroll designs are characteristic, as are comma-shaped motifs that suggest the head of a bird with a long down-curving beak.

The kai-diba, or dance paddle (also called dance shield), consists of two semicircular elements connected by a short bar, by which the dancer would have grasped and twirled the paddle. The dances in which the paddles were used accompanied ceremonies for harvests, the launching of a new canoe, and preparations for warfare.


Excerpt from

DMA Label text.

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