Fan handle, Central Cook Islands, early 19th century, wood, 17 x 2 1/4 in.
Sacred Images and Chiefly Works from Central Polynesia
This exhibition of 20 rare works created, used and collected in the late 18th century and first decades of the 19th century in the Cook Islands, Austral Islands and the Society Islands highlights natural materials and artistic techniques used to create images of worship, sacred objects and everyday articles. One of the most compelling aspects of these works is their variety of realistic and highly abstracted figurative forms. All of the works in this exhibition have multivalent stories to reveal. They have been highly valued for their aesthetic, religious, and cultural significance by the most powerful people of Central Polynesia and also by the Europeans who collected them for museums and for private enjoyment.