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A Tongan Neck Rest


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Design, Ethnographic & Ancient Art

A Tongan Neck Rest

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A Tongan Neck Rest

Pacific Islands

A pre-contact neckrest collected prior to 1840

The variegated wood from which the whole sculptural form is carved was carefully selected to enhance and define the gentle curve of the upper surface which is supported by two pairs of tactile, rounded legs with splayed feet; a central rib runs along the underside of the pillow. This is an early pre-contact kali as the whole is carved from a single piece of wood as with the two collected by Captain Cook on his voyages. In the later style the pillow was carved separately from the legs, the three pieces being secured with sennit.

Neck rests were used throughout the Pacific, where they were often regarded as status objects. Their extreme importance derived from the fact that they support the head which was believed to be a person's spiritual centre.

Width 40 cm (15.75 in)

The collection of Rear-Admiral Joseph-Fidéle-Eugéne du Bouzet (1805-1867). Collected on his expedition in the Pacific from 1837-1840.

Thence by descent

Joseph du Bouzet was First Lieutenant of the Zélée, one of two ships under the command of Jules Sébastien César Dumont d'Urville on the French South Seas & Antarctic Expedition (1937-1940). As well as extending the French influence and furthering trade the King commanded that the expedition should also search for the South Magnetic Pole.

1848 - Promoted to CaptainJanuary 1855 - First Governor of New Caledonia and Chief of the Naval Subdivision of Occeania.

1858 - Returned to Paris and promoted to Rear-Admiral.

The Art of Tonga by Keith St. Cartmail pub. G + B Arts International Ltd. 1997 p. 55

Pacific Encounters, Art & Divinity in Polynesia 1760-1860 Steven Hooper

Antarctic Medals, Curated by Glenn M. Stein FRGS - web publication.


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