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Female Figure

Date:
early 19th century
Geography:
Tonga, Ha'apai Islands
Culture:
Ha'apai Islands
Medium:
Whale ivory
Dimensions:
H. 5 1/4 x W. 2 x D. 1 1/2 in. (13.3 x 5.1 x 3.8 cm)
Classification:
Bone/Ivory-Sculpture
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
1979.206.1470
  • Description

    Although most Polynesian peoples appear to have made and used human images, few such objects have survived to the present day. Most were destroyed under the influence of Christian missionaries, who viewed such sculptures as "graven images." Small female figures in ivory were known from the Tongan archipelago as early as the late eighteenth century. Formerly referred to as goddesses, these figures are now thought to represent important female ancestors. A number of Tongan ivories were traded to the neighboring Fiji islands, where they were used during religious rites. This particularly expressive example was collected on the Fijian island of Viti Levu by the Reverend Cyril G. Hawdon in 1868.

  • Provenance

    Collected by Cyril G. Hawdon, Viti Levu, Fiji, in 1868; [John J. Klejman, New York, until 1957]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1957, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1957–1978

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
313658

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