Thursday, 15 August 2013

Two Standing Figures

Wooden figures, Society Islands, 1886.1.1424 and .1423

These carved wooden figures from the Society Islands were described by the Forsters as 'Wooden representations of human figures.'  The figures, male and female, have been described in the past as 'idols', and to have been associated with the 'free standing sorcery figures' that were the abodes of inferior and sometimes malignant gods, the 'oromatua.  

It has also been suggested that the figures, known as ti'i were used as canoe prows or stern figures, since the feet are damaged, as they appear to have been attached at one time to a larger piece of wood.

1886.1.1424 Female figure

According to Hooper, in 'Pacific Encounters - Art and Divinity in Polynesia 1760-1860' (British Museum Press, 2006) the asymmetrical hand position of the female figure is very unusual in the Society Islands.  He goes on to say that 'the second-voyage ships visited several places in the group, and, given that no specific island style has yet been identified, this figure may be from an island other than Tahiti or Ra'iatea.'