Art d'Afrique et d'Océanie

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Lot n° 61 - Ceremonial paddle, Salomon Islands, Melanesia
L. 51.7 in

Provenance:
- Pitt Rivers Museum, 1898
- Sotheby's, Londres
- Wayne Heathcote, Angleterre
- Collection privée

Exhibition:
- Prêt à long terme au Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Bibliographie:
- Deborah B. Waite, Artefacts from the Solomon Islands in the Julius L. Brenchley Collection, British Museum Publications, Londres, 1987

Paddles from the Solomon Islands vary both in their shape and use. Some were only exhibited at festivities, others brandished during war dances and still others were used as real combat weapons.
Here, the leaf-shaped head of this exceptional paddle has a face engraved on either side, with a long vein crossing the upper part of the body and then forming the nose, which is pierced at the nasal septum. Under the grip, which is tied with fine plantfibre plaiting, the tip of the paddle is sculpted in relief with two Janus busts and heads threatened by the jaws of a crocodile. The dense wood with closely package fibres is decorated with white and red ochre pigments.
The whole object includes a wealth of details, despite the material constraints, and is probably the finest known example of its kind. It can be compared to a paddle from the former Brenchley collection, found on Santa Isabel Island in 1865 during the collector's voyage on HMS Curaçoa, and now in the British Museum, (D. B. Waite, ill. 199, plate 10). And to another (op. cit, ill. 200, plate 10) of the same pedigree, kept in the Maidstone Museum.

Ceremonial paddle, Salomon Islands, Melanesia L. 51.7 in Provenance: Pitt Rivers Museum, 1898 Sotheby's, Londres Wayne Heathcote, Angleterre Collection privée Exhibition: Prêt à lo…

Lot n° 62 - Nuku Iva Island War Club (u'u), Marquesas Islands, Polynesia
L. 59.8 in

Provenance:
- James T. Hooper, Arundel, vendue anonymement le 11 juillet 1973, lot 276 (Information donnée verbalement par Hermione Waterfield, le 10 octobre 1991)
- Lance Entwistle, Londres
- Collection privée américaine

The u'u had incredible dimensions compared with other Polynesian clubs, were exclusively owned by warriors and supposedly sculpted to suit the size of their commissioners. It is believed that when held vertically, the bat had to reach the warrior's armpit so that he could lean on it. However the design, apparently standardised from one piece to the next, comes in myriad combinations.
On either side there are two radiating tiki heads in high relief depicting the tattoo pattern or "shining eyes” renowned among Nuku Hiva warriors. A third sculpted tiki head with stretched eyes and a flat nose in the center dominates an ornamental frieze with distinctive sides. The flared concave top of the head is adorned with a face in light relief balancing on the main crest defining the main face. The deep lustre is caused by polishing it slowly with sharkskin before the u'u is immersed in a taro field to darken it then finally coated in coconut oil to give the lacquer depth.
The u'u were fearsome weapons passed down through the generations and among the most popular pieces of Marquesas art.

Nuku Iva Island War Club (u'u), Marquesas Islands, Polynesia L. 59.8 in Provenance: James T. Hooper, Arundel, vendue anonymement le 11 juillet 1973, lot 276 (Information donnée ver…

Lot n° 63 - Islands Tami headrest, Gulf Huon, Morobé Province, Papua New Guinea
H. 7.1 in - L. 6.3 in - D. 3.5 in

Provenance:
- Galerie Alain Schoffel, Paris
- Collection privée

Exhibition:
- Vision d'Océanie, Musée Dapper, Paris, 22 Octobre 1992 - 15 Mars 1993
- Prêt à long terme au Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Publication:
- Vincent Bounoure, Vision d'Océanie, Musée Dapper, Editions Dapper, Paris, 1992, p. 168

Référence:
- Pour un autre appuie-tête comparable: Musée d'Ethnographie de Budapest (56-819) reproduit dans Jean Guiart, Océanie, Ed. Gallimard, 1963, p.278, n°263.

‘When I took the headrest in my hands, some 30 years ago in a gallery in Rue Guénégaud in Paris, Alain Schoffel told me it was the most important object of its kind! And I regretted not being able to buy it.'
Now when I see the object in retrospect and with the experience gained in all these years, my impression is the same: the size and quality of the sculpture are exceptional in the Tami Islands.
Patrick Caput, October 2018.
The first batch of thirteen headrests from the Tami Islands were collected by the Hungarian anthropologist Lajos Biró (1856-1931) before 1900 on behalf of the Néprajzi Muzeum in Budapest.
In his book Art in North-East New Guinea, Budapest, 1961, Tibor Bodrogi (1924- 1986) classified these headrests. They belong to type 1, characterised by ‘the lintel carried by a single individual at the centre of the composition.'
The kneeling figure, with a structure a little like a pyramid, plays the role of a caryatid between the seat and the base of the headrest. The object is slightly asymmetrical at the base, with the left-hand part set a little further back. The head is highly characteristic of the Tami Islands, and here it is slightly longer. The face has two large, circular eyes, a long nose, dilated nostrils and the mouth revealing prominent teeth.
The movement of the arms and legs is supple and elegant. The left hand is holding a Nassa shell and the elbow rests on a series of the same shells. The right hand is supporting the seat and is positioned in front of a column of Nassa shells. The chest, navel and knees are highlighted by hollowed out circles. The figure is wearing a headdress, and the face is framed by triangular patterns evoking a beard. From the back, we can see the figure is wearing a loincloth.
The object is made of red-brown, semi-hard wood that is now darker in the flat parts and impregnated with white Kaolin in the hollow parts. It has acquired beautiful shades of colour due to long use.
Lastly, Vincent Bounoure in his book Océanie (Dapper) adds a very interesting comment.
‘These headrests are found all along the north-eastern coast and were made in the Tami Islands, where (and only there) they were used during sleep.
The figure holding up the seat is thought to represent the ancestor, supporting men and the world. The close links between the headrest and its owner are shown when the owner dies. On the evening after his death, the dead man's relatives visit the place he liked to go to chew his betel. Here they set down the headrest, hiding it, and addressed the dead man in the following words: ‘If you are here, come and carry away your headrest and your betel bag.'

Islands Tami headrest, Gulf Huon, Morobé Province, Papua New Guinea H. 7.1 in L. 6.3 in D. 3.5 in Provenance: Galerie Alain Schoffel, Paris Collection privée Exhibition: Vision d'O…

Lot n° 65 - Maori Kawerau tiki wahaika hand club, New Zealand
L. 16.7 in - W. 4.7 in

Provenance:
- Bonhams Londres, 17 juin 1991, (lot 165)
- Collection privée, New York

Publication:
- Charles Mack, Polynesian Art at Auction 1965- 1980, Mack-Nasser Publishing, Northbor, 1982, p.158, n° 3

The word wahaika brings to mind a fish's mouth in Maori culture as its local name suggests and this flat club was designed for close combat to attack quickly and on target. The bottom of the short grip is decorated with two curls similar to warrior tattoos or moko, two tiki heads whose features have been worn with use and sculpted on the side edges. A second full-length figure appears on the length of the guard with hooked arms and legs, a wide head and eyes decorated in mother-ofpearl as below. Precise incisions add detail to the face and body decorations. The effigy is nervous and focused, surprised or ready to strike. The weapon's regular use has given the wood a beautifully warm patina that has smoothed down the design so the lines melt into the wood. The quadrangular holes to wear the weapon on a belt are very old; piercing dense wood on two sides differed to later production that used a European tool to pierce a single side. Fantastic example of this type of wahaika whose curvilinear shape is only found amongst the Maori.

Maori Kawerau tiki wahaika hand club, New Zealand L. 16.7 in W. 4.7 in Provenance: Bonhams Londres, 17 juin 1991, (lot 165) Collection privée, New York Publication: Charles Mack, P…

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