Volume 47 1938 > Memoirs > No. 15. The Oldman collection of Polynesian artifacts, p 37-46
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Memoir No. 15
Supplement to the Journal of the Polynesian Society.

(Maori section already published—Memoir No. 14.)


Pages 1—6

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NOTE—In presenting this second section of my Polynesian collection I have made little attempt at classifying the Tahiti, Austral and Cook Groups as there is great uncertainty of the exact localities of many specimens, especially amongst the carved staves, etc. I have recorded any exact information handed down, but unfortunately such has been secured in only a very few cases.

I hope that the series I have gathered, together with other collections, will, by comparison and study, tell us more about the lives and culture of their forgotten makers.


428 One of the national idols of Rarotonga; possibly representing Tangaroa; hard dark red aito wood, roughly carved. The notches below head and at end evidently represent the elaborate rows of figures on the larger examples. The body of stave is bound with a roll of tapa cloth decorated with black. Length, 29ins.; top, 9¼ins.; head, 4⅛ins. by 1¾ins. wide; end, 6¾ins. (see plate 3 for end).

420 One of the national idols of Rarotonga. Carved top only; very heavy polished aito wood, carved and pierced with groups of bat-eared figures; each alternate single one is a male. Ears of the large head are pierced. The back is notched and terminates with a large-eared figure. Length, 33ins.; head, 9½ins. wide, 4¼ins. x 2¼ins. thick. (Taria-nui, or “Great ears,” was the name of a deity of whom the king himself was a priest. —Williams, page 88.) (Taringa-nui, W. Wyatt-Gill.)

421 One of the national idols of Rarotonga. Very similar; extrafinely finished; well carved bat-eared figure on back. Length, 26ins.; head, 10½ins.; width, 4¼ins. by 2ins. thick.

434 One of the national idols of Rarotonga. Similar; figure on back is only crudely indicated. Length, 25¼ins.; head, 11ins.; width, 5¼ins. by 2ins, thick.

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423 One of the national idols of Rarotonga. Similar to No. 420. Figure at back is very crude; bat-ears are indicated. Length, 24ins.; head, 9½ins.; width, 4¾ins. by 2½ins. thick.

422 One of the national idols of Rarotonga. Particularly well carved and highly polished, no figure on back. Length, 24½ins.; head, 7¾ins.; width, 3⅝ins.

424 One of the national idols of Rarotonga. Complete, top similar, roughly cut, ears not pierced and figure on back only just indicated. The penis-end is carved with three figures (see plate 3). The centre is covered with thick rolls of tapa cloth of three kinds, white, light brown, and outer one ornamented with black painted zigzag designs; bindings of plaited sinnet. Length, 45ins.; top, 12⅝ins.; head, 6ins.; width, 6ins. by 1¼ins. thick; end, 11¾ins.

433 One of the national idols of Rarotonga. No tapa roll in centre (see plate 3 for end). Length, 56½ins.; top, 9ins.; head, 4⅞ins.; width, 2½ins. by 1½ins. thick.

435 One of the national idols of Rarotonga. Very long specimen; carving well executed; ears of large head commenced to be pierced; head of a lower figure is broken; no figure carved on back; usual series of notches. (See plate 3 for end.) Full length, 8ft. 3¾ins.; carved portion, 20¼ins.; head, 7¼ins.; width, 3¼ins. by 1½ins. thick.


Ends of the national idols of Rarotonga.

428 The figures below the penis-end are indicated only by notches. Length of carved portion, 6¾ins. (See plate 1.)

435 Six bat-eared figures, back is notched as on the heads. Length of carved portion, 25ins. (See plate 2.)

424 Three similar figures. Length of carved portion, 11¾ins. (See plate 2.)

433 Two figures, crudely carved; the second figure is especially interesting, showing the arms and legs merged into a continuous zigzag. The lower limbs of No. 424 also show the start of this conventionalization. Length of carved portion, 8½ins. (See plate 2.)


398 Head-pillow (Tuaurua). Cut from one piece of dark-brown wood, bottom rail of one side is missing. Length, 9ins.; width, 5½ins.; height, 5¾ins. Brought home by Geo. Bennet, 1823. Ex. collection of the Duke of Leeds.

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432 One of the great tribal deities of Mangaia. Brown hard wood, head finely carved and pierced; design consists of eight ribs, three on each face and one on each side, carved with conventional figures of deities; the spaces between ribs are pierced with lozenge-shaped holes; below the ribs is a band of carved and pierced deities; handle round in section, end is turret-shaped and carved with fourteen conventionalized deities, some broken. Very old. Length, 43ins.; head, 17ins. width, 7ins. by 4ins. thick. 1

437 Deity. Four figures one above the other; forked base; carved from heavy aito wood. Height, 34½ins.; top figure, 10½ins. This is illustrated in Wm. Ellis's Polynesian Researches, and described on p. 220 as “Terongo, one of the principal gods, and his three sons.” Wyatt-Gill states (according to Stolpe, Evolution in the Ornamental Art of Savage Peoples), “The black-haired Rongo has three sons (or daughter-sons), Rangi, Mokoiro, and Akatauira.”

379 Deity. Three figures similar to the last, roughly carved from hard light-brown wood; large forked base formed by the conventionalized legs of lower figure. Height, 27¼ins.; top figure, 8¼ins.

377 Wood adze and wedge for splitting bread-fruit before baking. Both are cut from very heavy dark wood; back of adze is flattened and cut into grooves; handle is of square section. Length of adze, 11½ins.; edge, 5½ins.; wedge, 8½ins. by 4½ins. by 2½ins. thick. Tahiti. From an old missionary collection.

375 Bread-fruit adze. Hard wood, projection at back, evidently to imitate the form of a stone-bladed adze; handle of round section. The word “Tappahai” written on handle in ink. Length, 11¾ins.; head, 7½ins.; edge, 2⅜ins. Tahiti. Ex. collection of the Earl of Home.


430 Deity. Flat bat-like form, top terminating in two heads, the one at back is roughly cut. The front has a raised centre panel of zigzag carving (see plate 3, No. 433), rows of conventionalized figures each side, three steps below. The base has sinnet binding, probably for holding sacred feathers. Length, 26ins.; width, 3¼ins., 1¾ins. at thickest. Believed to have been brought home by Rev. John Williams. Harvey group.

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429 Deity. Similar but much finer work, very heavy dark wood, top pierced with lozenge-shaped holes; below are four rows of conventionalized figures of deities in high relief and nine raised bands of zigzag ornament at base (see plate 3, No. 433). Two holes in sides at middle probably to attach bunches of sacred feathers. Length, 20¾ins.; width, 5¾ins. by 1¼ins. thick. Harvey group.

431 Deity. Somewhat similar form but coarsely carved on one side and roughly finished; raised centre panel. Length, 23ins.; width, 4ins. by ¾in. thick. Old label attached, “Brought home probably in Capt. Cook's ship. Belonged to Dr. Kirkpatrick, physician to Geo. III.” Ex. E. Howard collection. Harvey group.

365 God of War, Oro. A log of wood covered with fine sinnet-work; on one face a number of plaited sinnet flat loops are woven into the surface, possibly for the attachment of sacred feathers. Length, 24¾ins.; width, 5ins., tapering to 2½ins. A very old label attached, probably in Geo. Bennet's hand-writing, “Tahitean Idol made of the fibre of the cocoanut husk. To this class of idols human and other sacrifices and offerings were … evied. G. Bennet.” It is possible that this is one of Pomare's idols called “Oromatuas,” brought back by Bennet and illustrated in his Journal. Tahiti. Presented to John Wotherspoon by the Rev. George Bennet.

The first three specimens resemble the “Unus,” or burial-posts, described by Ellis, p. 214, but the bases show no signs whatever of being inserted in the ground.


394 Deity. Brown wood; head pierced through; projection at end and each corner; body carved in open work with three groups of conventionalized figures of deities in seven radiating flanges. Length, 11ins. Similar to specimens in the British Museum from the island of Mitiaro, Harvey group. Belonged to Dr. Kirkpatrick, physician to Geo. III. Ex. E. Howard collection.

369 Deity. Similar to last but base-portion only; two groups of eight radiating flanges of figures of deities, two raised bands of zigzag ornament below. Present length, 12¼ins. (?) Mitiaro.

425 Deity. Nut-brown wood carved with two deities back to back at each end, sinnet matting bound on side. Length, 22/12ins. figures, 3/12ins. Described as a deity of Rurutu (Austral group). Given to Rev. E. S. Prout, of Halstead, by John Williams about 1835.

423 Deity. Hard dark-brown wood; curious elongated form, right arm broken; face is very curiously formed; eyes are indicated by three ridges. May possibly represent Rimaroa (long arms), a deity of war. See Ellis, p. 193, Height, 16¼ins. Rarotonga.

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370 Female deity. See plates 9 and 12.

389 Sacred whisk-handle. See plate 9.

393 Spear-head (?). Dark-red wood, highly polished. The tapering head, round in section, has a band of fine carving near base, below is a collar of six projecting prongs, each with a boss or rosette in relief, probably conventionalized deity figures. The base cut and notched to fit on a shaft, outside surface is roughened to hold binding. Full length, 16¾ins.

392 Spear-head. Collar of ten prongs each of which is carved with a different design; outside surface of base is roughened to hold binding. Full length, 21ins. Given to Rev. E. S. Prout, of Halstead, by John Williams about 1835.

415 Spear-head. Whale bone; barbs cut each side; two ear-shaped lugs project at base, also two smaller circular projections. The tang is cut and roughened in a similar way to Nos. 392 and 393. Full length, 12¾ins. Brought to England in 1823 by Geo. Bennet. Ex. Duke of Leeds collection. Gambier islands.

417A Spear-head. Extremely fine specimen, all four lugs at base are circular. Length, 12⅛ins. Gambier islands.

417B Spear-head. Very old and worn. Full length, 10¾ins. Gambier islands.


181 Deity. Sculptured from an extremely heavy black open-grained volcanic stone; evidently very old. Height, 16½ins.; width, 10¼ins. by 7½ins. thick. Weight, approximately, 85 lb. Found buried in an ancient marae in the island of Hivaoa, Marquesas islands. Krajevski expedition, 1908.

361 Deity. Hard, grey-black, finer-grained volcanic stone; arms in front of body; back very slightly shaped. Height, 16ins.; width across shoulders, 7ins.; thickness, 5½ins. Found in the valley of the river Fontahna, Tahiti. Krajevski expedition, 1908.


366 Deity. Carved from fine-grained coral; standing figure with hands up to mouth; very thick body; square shoulders; one leg broken; side-view shown in photograph; much weathered. Height, 5ins.; width, 2½ins.; thickness, 2¾ins. Tahiti. Krajevski expedition, 1908.

363 Deity. Hard brown wood; square shoulders; thin arms; ears merge into the sweep of the chin-line, giving a cone-like effect to the head, very similar to the four masks on end of paddle from Aitutaki, No. 368, plate 65, in the New Zealand section. Surface shows signs of much weathering. Height, 12ins. Found in a cave at Maraa, Tahiti. Krajevski expedition, 1908.

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426 Female deity. Carved from extremely dense dark wood, highly polished; projecting ears, pierced; eyes inlaid with very small convex shells. A piece of fine shell-disc currency is fastened around neck. Height, 7¼ins. Probably from the Harvey group. Ex. Tucker collection.

364 Deity. Hard brown wood, probably unfinished. Short legs with the calves indicated. Height, 11ins. Locality unknown.

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Memoir No. 15
Supplement to the Journal of the Polynesian Society.

INSTALMENT No. 2 Pages 7—9

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381 Sacred whisk; handle of whale bone, made in two lengths joined with plaited sinnet; the main handle is rectangular, pierced with four large holes from each face, in between each hole is a raised carved deity or figure-emblem, three of the edges are cut into v-shaped grooves, terminating in small deity-emblems, the fourth edge is carved with a row of small deity conventionalized figures; pommel is pierced and carved with four deities. The upper section is carved with crescent-shaped grooves and a collar of figure-emblems; brown and black plaited sinnet-binding attaching a perfect fibre whisk of four plaited tails. Length of carved handle, 8¼ ins. Given to Rev. E. S. Prout by J. Williams. Austral group.

389 Sacred whisk-handle, dark-red wood, tapering square shaft pierced through on all four faces, end broken, squat figure of a deity at base, large head and very short legs. Has been carefully mended with sinnet by its native owner. Very old. Length, 7½ins. Figure, 1¾ins. high by ⅞in. across.

370 Female deity, carved from very hard brown wood, ears merged into line of jaw, hands on body, each having three fingers, square shoulders. Tapering shaft below, end flattened and pierced with a large hole. May possibly have been used as a whisk-handle. Length, 13½ins. Figure, 5ins. (See plate 12.) Brought home by Geo. Bennet, 1823. Ex. Duke of Leeds Collection.

378 Tattooing “needle” and striker; bone toothed, 1½in. wide, native join. Striker is of dark heavy wood, length, 19¼ins.; needle, 6½ins. Geo. Bennet, 1823. Ex. Duke of Leeds Collection. Tahiti.

400 Sacred fan, handle of dark red-brown wood carved and pierced with two male figures back to back, large ears. A collar of zig-zag carving at base, possibly representing conventionalized figures, see No. 433, plate 3. Coarsely woven fan, edges broken. Length, 18½ins. Handle, 4½ins. Rarotonga.


383 Sacred whisk, handle carved from red-black wood, two jugated seated figures with remarkable faces, two cylindrical horn-like projections on foreheads, probably representing ears. This may be another form of Taria-nui or “Great Ears,” see note at plate 1, no. 420. The edges of limbs and faces are ornamented with notched work; at base of handle is a raised collar or rosette carved with figure-emblems of Tane (?). Shaft is bound with black and brown plaited sinnet, most of the fibre whisk is missing. Length of carved portion, 7½ins. Huahine (?), Tahiti.

390 Sacred whisk, very similar, but no notched work at edges. Length of carved portion, 6⅜ins. Brought home by Capt. Lord Byron in H.M.S. “Blonde.”

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385 Sacred whisk, very clearly cut rosette of figure-emblems, no binding or fibre whisk. Length of carved portion, 6½ins.

384 Sacred whisk, exceptionally fine specimen, nose of one figure is broken, edges of figures are partly ornamented with notched work, binding and whisk intact. Length of carved portion, 7⅜ins.


388 Sacred whisk, similar to specimens on plate 10. Very finely carved figures, hands more separated than usual, thighs have notched ornamentation, fibre whisk of four tails intact, binding on shaft is missing. Length of carved portion, 6⅜ins. Brought home by George Bennet, 1823. Ex. Duke of Leeds Collection.

387 Carved whisk, remarkably finely proportioned and carved, the projecting “ears” are more to the sides at back of heads, tapering stem has eight longitudinal grooves carved with a fine V pattern, rosette of figure-emblems is very clearly carved, binding and fibre whisk are missing. (See plate 12 for enlarged detail.) Length of carved portion, 5⅝ins.

386 Sacred whisk, figures very similar but plainer, rosette missing, rings on grip are shallowly cut. Length, 5ins.

391 Sacred whisk, figures not so angular, faces oval, with eyes and nose indicated but no ears shown, small rosette of conventionalized figures, fibre whisk of five tails. Length of carved portion, 6¼ins. Label inscribed “Brought over soon after the discovery of the Islands and probably by Cap. Cook's ship. They belonged to Dr. Kirkpatrick, one of the physicians of George III.” Ex. E. Howard Collection.

397 Sacred fan, handle of hard dark-red wood, end has highly conventionalized double figures back to back, a zig-zag design has been commenced on the flat portion, the tapered end has a deeply-notched pattern. Finely woven fan in very good condition. Length, 18⅛ins. Width, 10½ins. Handle, 4½ins.


370 Female deity from Hervey islands. See plates 9 and 6.

387 Sacred whisk-handle from Huahine (?), Tahiti. See plate 11.

302 Household deity from Hawaii. See Hawaiian section.


473 Deity. Carved from heavy dark-brown wood, probably aito; surface polished with handling, somewhat crudely carved, mouth in relief, ears merge into the sweep of the chin-line, shoulders square with straight edge across back. The upper arms are thin and separated from the body; a fragment of fine woven grass-matting is fastened around the body, but uncertain if it is original. Height, 21ins. Width across shoulders, 5½ins. This

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figure resembles in some respects Nos. 436 and 437, plate 4, 363, plate 8, and 370, plate 9. Probably they all come from Aitutaki.


362 Deity. Dark-brown wood, very long body, no arms indicated, head carved in low relief, short legs on square base forming the feet, bottom edges are notched, the front is scratched with cross lines. Very old. Length, 34¼ins.; head, 3¼ins.; legs, 7ins.; greatest width, 2⅜ins. Brought to England by John Williams. Hervey islands.

379 Deity. Dense dark wood, head pierced and five leaf-shaped ornaments at corners projecting into points, three of these ornaments have serrated edges, below are four radiating open-work flanges formed of human figures, the two top ones have five flanges, the third has four, and the fourth two, some are broken. Sinnet binding on base. Length, 15⅝ins. Similar to a specimen in the British Museum from Mitiaro, also similar to the four-pointed top example no. 394, plate 6, but better finished. Very old label attached: “Staff used by the New Zealand Chief.”

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Memoir No. 15
Supplement to the Journal of the Polynesian Society.

(Maori section already published, Memoir No. 14).

INSTALMENT No. 3 Pages 10—16

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419 Model of a sacred, or war-canoe; built up in four sections, beautifully joined with plaited sinnet lashings, caulked with tapa (?) and pitch. A platform is formed behind each figure. The figures have square shoulders with straight edges across backs, the navel of the larger one is indicated in slight relief, also the fingers and toes. The whole is constructed of a light open-grained wood, possibly bread-fruit wood. Total length, 50ins; width, 5¾ins; depth in centre, 7ins; height at front, 15ins; stern, 17ins. Figures, 7 by 3¾ins. and 5 by 2½ins. This specimen is very old and appears to be a contemporary model; it was brought to this country about a century ago. Possibly from the Tuamotu group or Tahiti.


440 Gong, cut from a log of coarse-grained wood in the form of two jugated figures, the body is hollowed out forming the gong, one of the bodies is pierced with slots, the other is solid. The top or head-dress is rectangular and roughly hollowed. The base is a later addition, of native make, made to support the gong in an upright position. The carving is large and the design on body of one figure is unusual, being rows of diamonds or lozenges and a square of more ordinary carving introduced on left side. A very old label attached but unfortunately obliterated with age. Height, 49½ins.; body width, 8¾ins.; depth, 4⅝ins. Mangaia. Ex. Collection of the late Lord Guillamore.


438 Sacred drum (pahu-ra). Heavy hard red-brown wood, very finely-finished and polished, the base is hollow, and the minute carving is pierced through; there are eight bands of female dancing figures and seven bands or rows of arcs (see notes at no. 439 and at plate 29). At base there are twenty-two inverted masks and at top just under the cleats are twenty-three pierced masks with exceptionally finely-cut detail, these are nearly covered with the sinnet cords. Eleven cleats, each carved with two masks in relief. Shark-skin top, sinnet cords and tightening roll, the latter has a covering of twisted sinnet with a woven V design of yellow vine? (A paddle no. 408 and a pole-spear no. 449c have their shafts covered with a similar decoration). I do not know of other examples of perfect rolls. Height, 52ins; diameter of top, 7ins.; diameter across cleats, 10ins. Probably from Raivavai, Austral group.

439 Sacred drum (pahu-ra). Hard dark-brown, nearly black wood; base is hollow and the carving pierced through. Two bands of female dancing figures at top and bottom, the heads of the upper row merge into the twelve projecting cleats, also the same type of heads are indicated at the junction of the top arcs; additional

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proof of Dr. Stolp's interpretation of this arc design. The cleats are carved with alternate designs, one with double masks and one with rudimentary figure design with the exception of one cleat, which has a very interesting combination of both, see centre one in plate 18. Shark-skin top with sinnet tension-cords and roll; the sound is still very fine. The technique of the carving is different from no. 438, it probably came from an adjacent island in the Austral group. Height, 50¼ins.; diameter at top, 11½ins.; diameter across cleats, 13ins. A fuller description of these drums is given by Mr. H. D. Skinner in his article in this Journal, volume 42, 1933, pages 308-309.


Detail of carving on sacred drums.


395 Trumpet (pu), made from a very large murex shell perforated near the apex and a piece of cane inserted, secured by plaited-sinnet binding which extends the whole lenght of shell, the joint is cemented with a collar of pitch. Length, 17ins.; width, 8ins. Tahiti. Ex. The Royal United Service Museum.


425 Nose-flutes (2), (vivo), made of bamboo-cane, the joint in cane forming the one closed end; near this is an oval aperture through which it was blown; two finger holes. Length, 14ins. and 13¼ins. Written on one is “Tahitian Nasal Flutes, G. B. 1823,” probably in Rev. George Bennet's handwriting. Ex. Duke of Leeds Collection.

372a Priest's gorget (taame), finely woven plaited sinnet; the back is supported by a light cane frame. Around the outside edge is a border of bound tufts of dog's hair attached to the cane frame. The front has three rows of shark's teeth, pierced and bound on to cane strips; below are six large perforated shell discs surrounded with tufts of black feathers, mostly perished. Height, 20ins.; width, 18ins.

372b Portion of fabric, grass woven with an open square design, the whole stained black. The edges of three sides are original and not cut. Size, 28ins. square. Said to be a portion of a Tahitian priest's dress. Attached are two very old labels, “Matting from Otaheiti. Exhibited by Rev. B. Whitelock.” Ex. Collection of the late Captain Mailing.

399 Breast-plate of a large pearl-shell; the outside surface has a recessed centre leaving a crescent-shaped rim. The flat top is pierced with seventeen holes and used to attach a large bunch of twisted sinnet cords by plaited human hair, Width, 18½ins.; shell, 9 by 8 ins. Tahiti.

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399a Ear-ornament of finely-plaited human hair, button at one end and a small sinnet-seized loop at the other. Tahiti.

399b Pair ear-ornaments, bent fibre loops each with two bunches of soft black feathers attached. Tahiti.


478 Chief's necklet composed of plaited sinnet seized with fine plaited human hair; suspended at intervals are seven emblems or charms; three pieces of carved whale tooth shaped like the tops of seats (iri) two “sex emblems” one of whale tooth and one of very dense bone (human?); the rosetted (female) top of this appears to have been deliberately cut off; a conventionalized figure of a deity in whale tooth and in the centre a bird cut from turtle-shell. Length, 22½ins. Hervey or Austral group.

477 Chief's necklet, similar, four curved rectangular pieces, three “sex emblems,” (one 1¼ins. across) and a well-modelled pig or dog showing curved tail. Length, 18ins. Collected by Geo. Bennet in 1823. Ex. Duke of Leeds Collection.

479 Chief's necklet, similar, a “pig” in centre with spirally-ridged tail very similar to those on bowl (no. 476, plate 22). Two “sex emblems,” one of human (?) bone, all the other pieces are of whale tooth. Length, 18½ins.

All the above carvings are of very great age, much worn and of a fine deep colour.

480 Necklet of seventeen whale-tooth cylinder beads; all excepting two have flanged ends; strung on plaited human hair cord. Beads vary from ¾in. to 2¼ins.

478 Flanged cylinder ornament of whale-tooth similar to the above in shape but pierced with a small hole each end for attachment. Length, 1⅝ins.

“Cowrie” ornaments (2). Length, ¾ins. and 1⅜ins. A similar specimen on right from Fiji for comparison.

Carving, grooved and pierced, human face at top. Length, 1¾ins. (These four pieces came with the necklet no. 478).


476 Sacred dish or shallow bowl, cut from whale-bone; the tapering end has a shaped lip for pouring. Around the sides are twenty finely carved figures cut in very high relief; the handle end figures are turned sideways and surmounted by two “pig” figures, pierced below the back legs. Beautifully finished and of great age. Length, 14½ins.; width, 6⅜ins.; height, 2⅝ins. Figures average ¾in. The figures are very similar to those on a deity which was collected by John Williams at Rurutu, see plates 6 and 26, no. 425. The “pig” figures are also similar to those on the necklets, see plate 21.

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474 Chief's food bowl (umete), carved from one piece of dark-brown polished wood with a figured grain. The inside tapers slightly to one end and the end is cut square for pouring, the sides of the waist are slightly incurved, the rim curves to the inside edge. The base of bowl has a carved projection cut in three curved steps, slightly resembling the extremities of the “pig” figures on the sacred dish on plate 22. The curved feet with “heart-shaped” bases are similar to the seats, but both pairs point in the same direction. Length, 51ins.; width, 17½ins.; height, 11ins. Hervey group.

373 Seat (iri or nohoraa), cut from one piece of heavy dark wood, curved top with slightly concave edges; four legs with heart-shaped feet. Length, 17¾ins.; width, 9½ins.; height, 7ins. Hervey group. Ex. Turvey Abbey Collection, formed about 1840 by the late Charles L. Higgins.

373a Seat (iri or nohoraa), smaller and not so old. One pair of legs bound together with plaited sinnet. Length, 17½ins.; width, 8¼ins.; height, 7ins. Hervey group.

374 Head-pillow (tuaurua) cut from one piece of hard dark-red wood, highly finished and polished. A strong centre rib is carved on underside to strengthen the top, the curved legs are beautifully formed. Length, 27½ins.; width, 3¾ins.; height, 7½ins. Old inscription written in ink, “Obo—a? Qa, Otaheite, 1782,” this date is puzzling as no vessel appears to have been at Tahiti after Cook left in 1777, until the “Lady Penryn,” (Lt. Watts) called in 1783. Ex. “Turvey Abbey” Collection, no. 144.

535 Head-pillow in the form of a “lobe-shaped” war club, cut from one piece of heavy red-brown wood, much worn and highly polished. The supports are very unusual but the foot at the “handle” end is of the usual Tongan type while the legs at the “lobe” end resemble the Tahiti type. The “club” is inlaid with forty-one pieces of whale-tooth ivory, stars, crescents, diamonds and three “birds”?; a large star at each end. Much worn and highly polished. Some of feet are broken. Length, 43½ins.; height, 6½ins. Tonga.

537 Head-pillow; hard red wood, round bar top inlaid with fifty-seven pieces of whale tooth. The two “crescent” shaped legs (broken) are bound on to the top with plaited sinnet, very old. Length, 18ins. Tonga.


460 Food-dish, shallow and nearly circular, flat rim with a raised lug on one side. Four diamond-shaped feet, carved with lozenge design. The whole of the under-surface and rim ornamented with designs painted on with black pigment, similar to the

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decoration on the paddle from Aitutaki, no. 368. (Plate 65, Maori section). Size, 15ins. by 14⅛ins.; height, 4½ins.; feet, ⅝in. Hervey group.

459 Food-dish; similar form, under-side carved with design similar to that found on Mangaian adze-hafts, but each conventionalized figure is separated by a narrow vertical groove. Diameter, 11½ins.; height, 3ins. Hervey group.

454 Bowl used for washing hands before eating. Light-brown wood, scoop-shaped, rim partly carved; at the broad end is a conventionalized mask with two raised rosette-shaped ears. (See also plate 25). Length, 12⅛ins.; width, 5⅝ins.; height, 3ins. Written in ink on side, “G. Bennet 1823.” Ex. Duke of Leeds Collection. Austral group.


454 See plate 24.

458 Bowl used for washing hands before eating. Heavy dark wood finely carved on under-side and rim; inside has two lines of nio-mango (shark's tooth) design. Length, 13ins.; width, 9¼ins.; height, 4½ins. Ex. Tucker Collection. Austral group.

456a Handled bailer or scoop, square-sectioned haft terminating in a large pierced turret-head of twelve figures, 4½ins. diameter. The end of bowl is raised into a flat lip carved with eight rosettes; on the outside back to this lip is a female figure with large ears, 1¾ins. high, (see detail plate 26). Length, 48ins.; bowl, 13¾ by 6¼ins. by 3ins. deep. Austral group.

456b Handled bailer or scoop, square-sectioned haft, turret-top also square with two dancing figures wearing head-dresses, on each side. Small bowl with a conventionalized head of same form at end. Inside of bowl is carved with lines of nio-mango carving. Exceptionally old specimen. Length, 41¼ins.; bowl, 12¼ by 5½ by 2½ins. deep. Austral group.

456c Handled bailer or scoop, square haft, round turret of six dancing figures. Shallow and curved bowl tapering to a point, large mask at junction with haft. Length, 40½ins.; bowl, 15½ by 6 by 2½ins. Austral group.

456d Handled bailer or scoop, round haft, eight-figure turret-top, extremely narrow and deeply curved pointed bowl with a mask looking into the bowl. Length, 43ins.; bowl, 19¼ by 5 by 2½ins. Austral group.

456e Handled bailer or scoop, short square haft with turret-top of eight figures, the faces of which are unfinished. Large curved pointed bowl with a large bird carved in high relief, looking into bowl. Length, 38½ins.; bowl, 19¼ by 5 by 2½ins, Austral group.

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456f Handled bailer or scoop, square haft with seven-figure turret-top. Bowl is exceptionally large with a broad rim, at junction with haft is a raised carving of three conventionalized birds, heads facing handle. Length, 32ins.; bowl, 17 by 6½ by 5ins. Austral group.


456a Detail of female figure on end of Austral ladle, 1½ins. high. See plate 25.

425 Detail of a double figure on the end of one of the deities of Rurutu. Height, 3½ins. See plates 6 and 22.

470 Detail of a carved stone adze-head. See “Adze section.”


405 Ceremonial paddle of great size and weight; blade is thick in centre tapering from both faces to a thin edge, haft is of diamond section merging into a curiously-shaped pommel 2¾ins. thick. Length, 65ins.; blade, 27ins. by 15⅛ins. Austral group.

406 Ceremonial paddle, two turretted handles springing from a flat square pommel carved with a row of five female dancing figures each side and one on each end. The turrets have six figures, one set of faces do not show the features. Length, 55ins.; blade, 18 by 11¼ins. Austral group.

409 Ceremonial paddle, double square-sectioned handle surmounted by a flat top carved with two rows of four female dancing figures, a band of “crescent”-design between. One face of blade has an exceptional design. Length, 69½ins.; blade, 17 by 9ins. Austral group.

414 Spear-shaped paddle? light-weight dark wood, leaf-shaped blade very similar to the pole-spear (no. 449, plate 33) in outline but flat on one side face and convex on the other, merging into a square haft with flat top carved with two female dancing figures each side, one each end, (one side unfinished). At base of blade two pairs of rosetted “ears” are carved in relief on the sides. The whole specimen is slightly curved. Point broken; very old. Length, 56½ins.; blade, 22 by 3½ins. Probably from Raivavai, Austral group.

402 Club of hard dark-brown wood, highly finished and polished. Paddle-shaped blade drawn out to quadrangular spike (see Tongan club no. 520); round haft terminating in a knob or “penis” end with W-cut base, somewhat similar to that on the pole-spear no. 445b. At base of blade is a square collar carved with scalloped designs, raised notched ridge at each angle. Shaft is bound with plaited sinnet in bands, the point also shows signs of having been bound. Length, 66½ins. (168cm.); blade, 6⅛ins. wide.

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401 Club, heavy brown wood, highly finished and polished. Flat blade with serrated edges, carved with a V-design forming a diamond pattern. Quadrangular shoulder very similar to no. 402 as also is the end of shaft which is oval in section with sharp angle at sides as in all the pole-spear groups, nos. 445 to 448. Length, 58½ins. (149cm.); blade, 26½ins. by 5ins.

The above two clubs were collected by the late Rev. W. Wyatt Gill and belonged to the late William Lockhart, F.R.G.S., of Black-heath.

Two similar specimens at Leyden and Douay are described by Stolpe who considers that they both came from Mangaia.


371 Sacred stave, hard dark-brown wood, top surmounted by double figures similar to those on whisk-handles (plate 10 and 11). The “ears” are very prominent. Round shaft tapering to a blunt point, 21ins. from end is collar 1½ins. diameter, of figure-emblems similar to those on the sacred-whisks, each side of this are bands of shallow V-grooves. Length, 116ins.; figure, 4⅜ins. Huahine (?), Tahiti.

403a Sacred stave, dark-red hard ribbed wood, highly finished and polished. Shaft is round, tapering to a point; 20ins. from end is a sharp-edged flange 1¾ins. diameter; exactly similar to those on the pole-spears (plate 33). The large turret top is hollow and carved around with thirteen dancing figures, limbs pierced through, features crudely indicated. Length, 89½ ins.; diameter of top, 3½ins. Austral group.

403b Sacred stave, black wood, smaller, solid turret of six figures; eyes are well carved in relief. A sharp flanged collar, 1⅝ins. diameter.

407 Paddle, exceptionally finely carved. Small hollow turret-head with ten figures, pierced. The heads of these figures are particularly interesting as above each face are two small projections. These resemble the ears of the figures on the whisk-handles (plate 10 and 11) much more than the usual “rosettes.” Both faces of blade have cross lines of nio-mango carving only. Very dark wood, highly polished. Length, 55¼ins.; blade, 13¾ by 8ins. Austral group.

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Memoir No. 15
Supplement to the Journal of the Polynesian Society.

INSTALMENT No. 4 Pages 17-23

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NOTE: I have not attempted to give localities to the following series of pole-spears but I hope that these brief observations and comparisons may throw a little light on the problem of fixing the exact places of origin of the various distinct types.

Starting with the simple plain fighting spears (441): one of these has a very old label with “Boro-boro” written on it. The ends of the shafts of this group are exactly similar to the scalloped-bladed groups (442 and 445); among the latter group are found the raised conventional figures of deities like those on the collars at bases of the whisk-handles which I believe come from Huahine, (plates 10 and 11).

In the group 446 the large eyes at base of the blades are carved exactly like those on the National Idols of Rarotonga, (plates 1 and 2). All the ends in this group have expanding flat butts, oval in section.

The next two groups (447 and 448) have entirely different ends, the shafts are parallel and nearly round in section, ends have deep grooves cut to attach the sinnet-matting caps.

The last group (449) have blades and raised collars very similar in form to the 447 group but their shafts are entirely different, perfectly round in section with sharp edged flanges or collars near their tapering ends. This group can, I think, be definitely stated to come from the Austral group.

The spear-shaped paddle with the pair of raised ears or rosettes on each side is also of special interest (plate 27, No. 414).

Captain Cook's description of the weapons of Wateeoo (Atiu or Vatiu) is of great interest, so I quote the following extract taken from G. A. Cookes' “Geography”; 1807. Vol. 1, p. 277:—

“The clubs were generaly about six feet long made of hard black wood, lance-shaped at the end but much broader with the edge nicely scolloped, and the whole neatly polished. Others of them were narrower at the point, much shorter and plain; and some were even so small as to be used with one hand. The spears were made of the same wood, simply pointed, and in general above twelve feet long; though some were so short, that they seemed intended to be thrown as darts.”

It may be worth while noting that the prevailing motif of “eyes” on the collars of these weapons, especially those on the 446 group, seem to have a passing resemblance to the New Zealand chiefs' staffs (taiaha) particularly to No. 60, plate 54, New Zealand Memoir No. 14.

Do the blades represent protruding tongues as in the Maori taiaha?


441a Pole-spear, heavy nearly black wood (toa) highly polished; shaft of lozenge section flattening out to a point, “penis”-shaped base with three grooves (see plate 34). Length, 82½ins.; greatest width, 1¾ins.; weight, 41bs. 12ozs.

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441b Pole-spear, similar, fine specimen and highly finished. Length, 100ins.; greatest width, 2⅛ins.

441c Pole-spear, dark-red wood, lighter make, a collar of two ridges at base of blade which has a slightly central ridge indicated. Length, 76¾ins.; blade, 30½ by 2ins.

441d Pole-spear, similar to b, blade more spatulate, red-brown wood. Length, 90½ins.; greatest width, 3⅛ins.

441e Pole-spear, similar to a. Very hard brown wood. Length, 102½ins.; width, 1⅞ins. Old label inscribed “Bora Bora” attached.

442a Pole-spear, black wood, surface shows tool-marks. Scalloped edges to blade, plain raised collar below. Base of shaft is “penis”-shaped. Length, 88ins.; blade, 37¼ by 3⅜ins.

442b Pole-spear, brown wood, similar blade, collar below is carved in three ridges, the two outer ones are curved, almost forming a pair of eyes as developed on No. 444g. Length, 82½ins.; blade, 37½ by 3ins.

442c Pole-spear, similar, leaf-shaped blade, collar like that on b. Length, 92½ins.; blade, 43½ by 3ins.

442d Pole-spear, edges have a double row of scallops. Collar of two raised bands, one commenced to be carved with a zig-zag design (see plate 3, No. 443 note) “penis”-shaped end, (see plate 34). Length, 94ins.; blade, 44¾ by 3¼ins.

442e Pole-spear, similar. One collar of zig-zag design at base of blade. Length, 90ins.; blade, 41½ by 3¼ins.

443 Pole-spear. The blade has three rows of scallops joined by five raised zig-zag bands and terminating in two points each with a double row of scallops. The collar is carved with two pairs of eyes each side. Length, 107ins.; blade, 48 by 3⅜ins. The treble scalloping on the blade of this specimen, when looked at horizontally, suggests the bands of arcs around the bases of the Austral drums (plate 17) which, according to Stolpe and others, represent the limbs of female dancers with no heads. Further, it may be possible to associate the origin of crescent incisions upon the edges of all these weapons with this same motif.


444a Pole-spear, extremely large and massive, hard dark-brown polished wood, collar of two eyes below head. Tapering base has double V-grooves. Length, 114ins.; blade, 56½ by 11½ins.; weight, 10lbs. 4ozs.

444b Pole-spear, similar, nearly black red wood highly polished. The collar has three extra ridges above the eyes. Length, 119½ins.; blade, 55 by 11ins.; weight, 9lbs. 2ozs.

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444c Pole-spear, highly finished black wood, collar of two eyes. Base of shaft is “penis”-shaped with two grooves (see plate 34). Length, 88¼ins.; blade, 42 by 7ins.; weight, 6lbs. 2ozs. Ex. Royal United Service Museum.

444d Pole-spear, dense light-brown wood (Aito?) the tapering base of shaft is unusually carved with two raised crescents or scallops each side and four zig-zag grooves (see plate 34). Length, 114½ins.; blade, 47½ by 3⅜ins.; weight, 6lbs. 4ozs.

445a Pole-spear, heavy black wood, highly finished and polished. The tapering butt has three V-grooves, and 14½ins. up shaft is a group of six raised figure-emblems like those on No. 445c. Length, 109¼ins.; blade, 47½ by 10ins.; weight, 8lbs. 1oz.


445b Pole-spear, black wood very highly finished and polished. In centre of blade are four raised figure-emblems, each side, also another group of six on shaft 18ins. from butt which has five deeply-cut zig-zag or W-shaped grooves (see plate 34). Length, 99ins.; blade, 42¼ by 7¾ins.

445c Pole-spear, six figure-emblems in place of the double-eye collar at base of blade, two V-grooves at butt end. Length, 88ins.; blade, 31¾ by 4¾ins.; weight, 5lbs. 5ozs.

444e Pole-spear, black-brown wood, massive head, the double eyes have two ridges in centres, two V-grooves at butt-end. Length, 91¼ins.; blade, 39½ by 11ins.; weight, 6lbs. 14ozs.

444f Pole-spear, similar. Collar of three eyes each side, plain tapering butt. Length, 95¾ins.; blade, 44½ by 11ins.; weight, 7lbs. 12ozs.

444g Pole-spear, very highly-finished red-brown wood, two grooves at butt. Length, 103ins.; blade, 47 by 5⅝ins.

444h Pole-spear very highly-finished red-brown wood, eyes have very strong central bars, three grooves at butt. Length, 97¼ins.; blade, 43 by 5¼ins.; weight, 5lbs. 4ozs.

444i Pole-spear, very highly-finished red-brown wood, two grooves at butt. Length, 100½ins.; blade, 37⅝ by 3½ins.; weight, 6lbs.

444j Pole-spear. The blade has two lines cut in each scallop, the only one in the collection with this treatment. Two eye collars similar to h and i. Single groove “penis”-end to butt. Length, 93¾ins.; blade, 49 by 2¾ins.; weight, 5lbs. 4ozs.

444k Pole-spear, particularly massive haft. The raised collar is curious having one extra ridge to one eye on each side. The tapering butt is almost quadrangular and cut with three deep V-grooves (see plate 34). Length, 98ins.; blade, 35 by 3ins.; weight, 6lbs. 4ozs.

444l Pole-spear, haft exceptionally flat, 1⅝ by 1⅛ins. The collar consists of a single large eye. Butt is “penis”-shaped (see plate 34). Length, 99¼ins.; blade, 41⅝ by 3¾ins.; weight, 5lbs. 8ozs.

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446a Pole-spear. Hard dark-brown wood, blade cut into deep scallops with rounded points, three raised ridges cut behind each, blunt point; tool-marks shown on surface (see note at plate 29, No. 443). At base of blade is a raised collar of two large eyes, one side of each eye has two ridges evidently representing an eye-brow. Oval haft expanding slightly to a flat butt, this is cased in a woven sinnet cover, also bound with plaited sinnet-cord in lozenge-designs extending 6ins. up the haft (see plate 34). Length, 97ins.; blade, 39½ by 4⅝ins.; weight, 6lbs. 3ozs.

446b Pole-spear, similar, no binding, haft expands from 1½ins. to 2ins. at butt. Length, 95½ins.; blade, 38 by 5⅜ins.; weight, 6lbs. 1oz.

446c Pole-spear, similar, slightly lighter-coloured wood. Length, 90¾ins.; blade, 38⅛ by 5ins.; weight, 5lbs. 13ozs.

446d Pole-spear, similar, the butt expands to 1½ins. Length, 83½ins.; blade, 37½ by 5ins.; weight, 5lbs. 10oz.

367 Pole-weapon, heavy red-brown wood, haft is circular and expands into a thick spatulate blade, at base of which is a very slightly indicated crescent-shaped collar. Length, 104½ins.; blade, 41 by 3⅞ins.; weight, 6lbs.

416 Pole-weapon? very heavy dark-red wood, highly polished, round shaft 1⅜ins. in diameter, slightly tapered then swelling abrubtly to a blunt point. The butt-end is flattened slightly, widening and narrowing then expanding into a “fish-tail”-end 2½ins. across. Length, 127ins.; weight, 8lbs. 3ozs. Ex. Royal United Service Museum.

412 Paddle-shaped weapon, dark-brown wood, haft of thin oval section gradually expanding into a thin blade, both faces of which are slightly convex. The butt tapers to a point. Length, 134ins.; width of blade, 5⅝ins.; weight, 7lbs. 6ozs.


447a Pole-spear, very dense red-black wood, haft nearly circular in section, the blade is leaf-shaped with a raised central ridge, edges and surface carved with small V-shaped scallops; this carving seems to have been done after the surface had been polished, traces of red pigment in the carving. The raised collar below blade consists of two bands in high relief decorated with “chevron”-design, two arcs in slight relief are carved each side of these. This collar design which is always found on this group (447/8) is very interesting as it appears to be an exaggerated development of the eyes found on groups 442/5, the central ridges of eyes being greatly enlarged. The haft is parallel to the butt which has a cap of woven sinnet attached to a deep groove (see plate 34). Length, 126ins.; head, 46¼ by 4¾ins.; weight, 8lbs. 2ozs. Ex. Royal United Service Museum.

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447b Pole-spear, very dense red-black wood, end of blade broken, carving on collar is very deeply cut, sinnet cap at butt is missing. Very old specimen. Present length, 107⅜ins.; blade, 37¾ by 4⅛ins.; weight, 6lbs. 2ozs.

448a Pole-spear, of same form but plain. Well-cut collar, ridges have four small projections with a circular cavity in the centre of each. Parallel haft of circular section, groove cut at butt for sinnet cap. Length, 124½ins.; blade, 42½ by 4⅜ins.; weight, 7lbs. 2ozs.

448b Pole-spear, rich-coloured red wood, very highly polished, greatest width of blade is nearer the point. The projections on ridges of collar are more pronounced. Deep groove for sinnet covering at butt (see plate 34). Length, 111¾ins.; blade, 43¼ by 3⅞ins.; weight, 5lbs. 14ozs.

449a Pole-spear, red-black wood, slender make, blade has a central ridge like 448a. Perfectly circular section haft tapering to a point at butt, 21ins. from end a sharp edged flange 1½inch diameter is formed. The raised collar at base of blade is elaborated; the projections on ridges indicated on 448b are developed into projecting rosettes carved with “star”-designs, the two ridges are each carved with a different pattern, one a zig-zag and the other “conventionalized-figure”-designs; fine typical Austral carving each side. Length, 118½ins.; blade, 38½ by 3⅛ins.; weight, 3lbs. 14ozs.

449b Pole-spear, red wood, highly finished, blade has no distinct central ridge, the ridges on collar are each carved with a distinct design, also the flange near the base is similar to 449a; carving is remarkably fine. (See plate 34). Length, 88¾ins.; blade, 28¾ by 3ins.; weight, 2lbs. 11ozs.

449c Pole-spear, red wood, highly finished. The blade is ornamented with lines of “shark-tooth” or nio-mango design. The haft, from collar to flange, is covered with plaited-sinnet binding in which strips of yellow vine are woven making a V-pattern, similar to that on the roll of the Austral drum (plate 17) and the paddle No. 408. Length, 98ins.; blade, 31½ by 2⅞ins.; weight, 3lbs.

  • 447a See plate 33
  • 448b See plate 33
  • 446a See plate 32
  • 444d See plate 30
  • 445a See plate 31
  • 445b See plate 31
  • 442a See plate 29
  • 441a See plate 29
  • 444k See plate 31
  • 444c See plate 30
  • 444g See plate 31
  • 444j See plate 31
  • 444l See plate 31
  • 442d See plate 29
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444n Pole-spear, blade similar to No. 444l. Carved collar of three eyes on each face, haft exceptionally sharp-edged at sides. Length, 88¼ins.; blade, 31½ by 4ins.

444m Pole-spear, blade similar to No. 444l. Raised collar of three ridges, evidently a degenerate form of a pair of eyes. Length, 82¼ins.; blade, 35½ by 4ins.


445e Pole-spear, blade similar to 444k, collar of seven figure-emblems at base of blade; two V-grooves at pointed butt. Unusually small and very old. Length, 71¾ins.; blade 26½ by 2⅝ins.; weight, 2lbs. 7ozs.

445d Pole-spear, larger, seven raised figure-emblems on collar. Length, 92ins.; blade, 40½ by 4¼ins.

444m See detail of butt.

444o Pole-spear, extra-deeply-scalloped blade, collar of four eyes on each face, three shallow V-grooves at pointed base. Length, 103¼ins.; blade, 39 by 5ins.

444n Pole-spear, see detail on butt.

449a Pole-spear, see plate 33.

443 Pole-spear, see plate 29.

448c Pole-spear, similar to No. 448a, traces of red pigment in carving of collar. Length, 115½ins.; blade, 41½ by 4ins.

448d Pole-spear, black wood, slender, collar exceptionally plain, haft slightly increased in diameter at butt. Length, 108½ins.; blade, 42½ by 4⅛ins.


413 Goddess. Brown wood. The face has a pointed chin, prominent ears, mouth barely indicated; wearing a head-dress which appears to be a circular cap with brim ornamented with deep notches, projecting knob on top. The arms are free of body, one broken; upper arms are cut square in section, forearms bent and resting on projecting abdomen. Shoulders are square; a raised panel runs down centre of back; in front a curved flat ridge stretches across shoulders, possibly representing a gorget (?) small triangular breasts below. The gluteal region is very small; thighs are flexed and the calves are very large, out of all proportion to the rest of the figure; the feet are merged into the base which is stepped in front, the upper step may represent the toes (?). Both the knees and buttocks are flattened and carved with rosettes. The face, back, arms, and legs are carved. The whole figure has traces of having been covered with red pigment. Height, 26ins. (660cm.) Width across shoulders, 9¾ins. (250cm.) Raivavae, Austral group.

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An old document preserved with the figure states that it was an “Indian God Brought to England by the Revd. John Williams from the islands of … … and left by him with his friend Timothy East. … … (Williams) brought the God to England by the consent of the natives for the purpose of illustrating his lectures to procure funds on behalf of the Mission to the islands. … …”

Note:—The name of the Rev. Timothy East of Birmingham is mentioned in Williams' “Missionary Enterprises,” pp. 276 and 398-399.

I have the original set of large coloured folding-drawings with MSS. descriptive labels, used by Williams on his lectures, complete in their original travelling case.—W.O.O.


413 Goddess from Raivavae. Side view.

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1   This is very similar to the three specimens in the British Museum and is probably one of the thirteen deities taken from the idol-house (Te Kaiara) at Motoro, described by W. Wyatt-Gill in Life in the Southern Isles, p. 95, in which he states they were all “carved in iron-wood by Rori about one hundred and sixty-five years ago.”