Gope boards are carved wooden tablets made by groups in the Gulf of Papua. They represent ancestral spirits who protect members of the clan from bad luck, sickness, and death. This particular board from the museum’s hidden collection is from Morigio Island. The photographic scale in the image is about 8 inches long. It was photographed in the diagonal in order to best show the board’s details.
Deb Harding is a collection manager in Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Section of Anthropology. She frequently blogs and shares pieces of the museum’s hidden anthropology collection, which is home to over 100,000 ethnological and historical specimens and 1.5 million archaeological artifacts.