Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Lidded Bowl (Kotue), late 18th–early 19th century
    'Enana (Marquesan) people, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia
    Wood; L. 13 1/2 in. (34.3 cm)
    Gift of Mrs. Evelyn A. J. Hall, 1986 (1986.476.4a,b)

    Among the most elegant works from the Marquesas Islands are the bird-shaped bowls known as kotue. Only about a dozen examples survive, all of which exhibit the same unusual imagery in which a small human head is depicted on the end of a lidded bowl, whose gracefully curving form otherwise suggests the body and tail of a bird. Only about a dozen of these remarkable vessels are known.

    Versatile as well as elegant, bird-shaped bowls were first described by European explorers in the eighteenth century and a number of different functions are assigned to them in the historic sources. Fitted with removable lids to protect their contents, kotue were used to store a variety of items, including popoi, a paste made from pounded breadfruit that is a staple of the Marquesan diet. They were also used to safeguard ornaments and other valuables as well as 'eka (turmeric), a precious yellow-orange powder used to adorn the skin.

    Related

    Index Terms

    Material and Technique

    Object

    Subject Matter/Theme


    On view: Gallery 353
    Move Separator Print
    Close
  • Lidded Bowl (Kotue), late 18th–early 19th century
    'Enana (Marquesan) people, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia
    Wood; L. 13 1/2 in. (34.3 cm)
    Gift of Mrs. Evelyn A. J. Hall, 1986 (1986.476.4a,b)


    Move
    Close