The San Francisco Tribal & Textile Art Show

The 35th Annual San Francisco Tribal & Textile Art Show is currently underway in San Francisco, USA. The show opened on Thursday the 25th of February 25 and comes to a close on Wednesday the 3rd of March.

On exhibition at the show, amongst other items, we see information and examples of the Phantom painted on war shields used by tribes in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. We also see the cultural influence the Phantom had in the region, with examples of the local government using the Phantom to promote public health initiatives (encourage the public to eat locally grown, protein-rich peanuts instead of starch).

The Phantom has also appeared in comics (Wantok) and 2 newspapers (PNG Post-Courier and Wantok Niuspepa) in the region.

Show organizers describe the Phantom items on show as:

In the second half of the twentieth century, an artistic tradition arose in the Wahgi Valley of the Highlands of Papua New Guinea of painting traditional war shields with the image of the comic book superhero The Phantom. This derived from some seemingly inexplicable intersection of the age-old bellicose traditions of one of the most culturally remote areas of the world and twentieth-century comic book illustration, if not pop art—a phenomenon that art historian N. F. Karlins has referred to as pop tribal. The frequent text in English or in Tok Pisin on other examples—man ino save dai (man who cannot die) or man bilong pait (man of war)—only adds to the multicultural depth. Though these appear to be curiously syncretic objects to the Western eye, to the people of the Wahgi Valley they held deep meaning to the martial power of moral rectitude and the guidance of ancestral spirits.

The exhibition coincided with the release of the books, Man Who Cannot Die: Phantom Shields of the New Guinea Highlands which goes into great depth and detail on the Phantom’s images on Papua New Guinea shields.

For more information on the exhibit, click HERE