Spirit Board (PS001)

Description of item:




































Guinea spirit gope board from the Papuan Gulf, good gallery display, carved wood, lime pigments; 1970’s.


Height: 190 cm (75 inches)

​Width: 31 cm (12 inches)


The gope board is the signature art form of the Papuan Gulf and they are known by a number of different names. Among the Kerewa, Urama, Era and Turama peoples of the western gulf they are know as gope; the Purari of the central gulf call them koi and the Elema in the east, hohao. Often carved from the side of an old canoe, each board was created as the dwelling place of an individual spirit (imunu), whose image appears upon it. The form and imagery of spirit boards varied considerably depending on the place and the ways in which artists conceived the appearance of the individual spirit. All spirit boards however consist of oblong plank like images portraying the face of the imunu. Geometric motifs, which in some cases codified aspects of clan oral traditions that were revealed to novices during initiation, often wholly or partially surround the face and body.


Bell, J. A. ‘Le Golfe de Papouasie’, (2005: 212).

​​Welsch, Webb, Haraha, ‘Coaxing the Spirits to Dance’, (2011: 14, 20).

Kjellgren, E. ‘Oceania: Art of the Pacific Islands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’, (2007: 126).


Private German collection.



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