9th–11th century (?)
United States, Mokumanamana (Necker) Island, Marae 12, Hawai'i
Vesicular basalt
H. 7 3/4 x W. 6 1/8 in. (19.7 x 15.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1976
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 353
This enigmatic head and torso is one of a group of eleven stone figures discovered in 1894 on Necker Island, a barren outcrop of rock 300 miles northwest of the Hawai'ian islands. Necker was once inhabited by Polynesian settlers who built temple platforms and carved stone figures from the local basaltic rock, but the island was abandoned several centuries prior to European contact. Therefore, the precise identity and function of the Necker Island figures, which may date from about A.D.1000, is unknown. Because they were found in association with temple platforms, it is likely that the figures are images of gods or deified ancestors that were used during religious ceremonies.
Captain Freeman and Benjamin H. Norton, collected Necker Island, 1894, S.S. Iwalani; Daniel Balou; (William Coleman Auction Galleries, New York, until 1940); [Willard B. Golovin, New York, until 1976]

"Stone Idols from Necker Island." Journal of the Polynesian Society vol. 3 (1894), pp. 153–54.

Lois, Rosemary and George, and H. Priday. "A Polynesian Migration Circa 1765." Journal of the Polynesian Society vol. 3 (1894).

Emory. "Archaeology of Nihoa and Necker Islands." Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin, Tanager Expedition, Publication no. 5, vol. 53 (1928), pp. 54–55, 68, 111–12.

Jones, Mark. The art of the medal. London, 1979, pp. 91–96.

Rose, Roger G. Hawai'i: The Royal Isles. Vol. vol. 67. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1980, p. 166.

Kirch, Patrick Vinton. Feathered Gods and Fishhooks: An Introduction to Hawaiian Archaeology and Prehistory. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1985, pp. 94, 96, 97.

Newton, Douglas, Julie Jones, and Kate Ezra. The Pacific Islands, Africa, and the Americas/The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987, p. 94.

Kjellgren, Eric. Oceania: Art of the Pacific Islands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007, no. 192, pp. 315–316.