Last week I asked you what this might be a part of:
Guesses included a shield, a spirit board, and two guesses of a mask. Shield is the closest guess. (click on image for a larger version)
According to the accession information, corroborated with some google searching, this object is a dance shield or dance paddle from the Trobriand Islands. The ethnologist I referred to was Bronislaw Malinowski, whose name I enjoy pronouncing.
The shields (we actually have two such objects in the collection) are beautiful but fragile. The pigments, especially the white, are not secure. Just taking the photos I took for these posts resulted in white pigment left on the dark background, just under the weight of the object itself. Until such time as we can consider professional conservation treatment, all who might handle these objects must be extremely careful and consider the implications setting it down on a table may have for the pigment.