Figure | Nguzunguzu
Boat figure, um 1900
About the object
The human figure stands in a frame decorated with common egg cowrie shells and lime incrustations, which tapers in the lower section. The figure shows realistic depictions of tattoos and scarifications, pierced, plugged ears, hair and a necklace.
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This type of object is poorly documented on account of its rarity, but is connected to the extensive sea voyages undertaken by the Solomon Islanders: before colonisation to go on head hunting expeditions and from the end of the 19th century for the equally dangerous enterprise of tuna fishing. Presumably the figure represents a protective deity, which was fixed in the rear of the boat, hence the tapered shape. Stylistically, it has similarities with other Solomon Island art forms. The contrasting black and white tones, the elongated form of the face, and the representation of frigatebirds, which were admired as strong, aggressive and agile creatures are frequent motifs in Solomon Island art. Author: Heike Gerlach, Translation: Timothy Connell