Taking Root and Stock: Naturally Formed Fijian Clubs

Rootstock Club (Vunikau), mid 19th CenturyFiji, MelanesiaWood; 46 x 3 1/2 x 3 3/8 in.2020.5.1Bowers Museum PurchaseHit Square with a RootThe fundamentals of warfare are in large part the same across all cultures and all times: there is a point of contention and so the sides—whatever they might be—rally a force and attack an enemy with weapons. As a...
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The Osborne Collection: Opening Ceremony Pt. 2

Frieda, Ellen and Carolyn performing at the opening of the Bai ra Nagsechel ar Cherchar, 1969Image courtesy of Frieda WrayBeginning of the EndThe electric opening of the Palau Museum’s Bai ra Nagsechel ar Cherchar was marked with dancing and music, but there is always more going on than meets the senses. In last week’s post the Bowers Blog explored...
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The Osborne Collection: Opening Ceremony Pt. 1

The Bai ra Ngesechel ar Cherchar shortly after being constructedImage courtesy of Frieda WrayGrand OpeningOpenings are extravagant affairs. If all goes to plan they only happen once, so to commemorate the moment there should be a grand party with musicians, speakers thanking all those involved and, most importantly, there should be a pair of comica...
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The Osborne Collection: Return to Palau

Bai Model, mid 20th CenturyPalau, MicronesiaWood; 5 1/4 × 3 × 11 3/4 in.2019.17.5Gift of Frieda O. Wray from the Estate of Dr. & Mrs. Douglas and Carolyn OsborneIf You Lived Here, You’d Be Home by NowPeople can meet one another anywhere, but almost all cultures build specialized buildings in which community members can come together to discuss ...
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The Osborne Collection: To Begin, A Biography

Carolyn and Dr. Douglas Osborne, 1968 passport photographsImages courtesy of Frieda WrayTolúk BackIn a previous blog post we showcased two rare tolúk currency pieces from the Osborne Collection which originates from the island country of Palau in southwest Micronesia. Though the post focused more on the objects than their provenance, the donation c...
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Carved Cushions: Headrests of New Guinea

Headrests, 20th CenturyNew Guinea, MelanesiaWood2019.22.23; 2015.7.11; 2018.14.37 and 2019.22.29Gifts of Mr. Michael Hamson and Anonymous DonorIsland DreamsBarring Boris Karloff’s 1932 rendition of a mummy caught in eternal vertical slumber and perhaps a few other standing sleepers throughout history and literature, most of us sleep in a decidedly ...
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That’s Got to Sting: Barbed Blades from the Admiralty Islands

Dagger, 19th Century Admiralty Islands, Bismarck Archipelago, Manus Province, Papua New Guinea, MelanesiaWood, stingray barb, fiber and beads 2019.20.2Bowers Museum PurchaseBlade with a BarbThe Bowers Blog has previously spent a lot of time focusing on the art of Admiralty Islands, a small chain located in Papua New Guinea’s Bismarck Archipelago. I...
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Wood that Can be Beat: Fijian Barkcloth Beaters

Barkcloth Beater (Ike), 19th Century Viti Levu, Fiji, PolynesiaWood; 10 ¼ x 2 5/16 x 2 1/8 in. 2019.20.1Bowers Museum PurchaseMarch to the Beat of your Own BeaterWhether made from the sheared wool of adorably cloud-like animals, pulled from cotton plants or spun from the gossamer silk of worms; textiles are made with a variety of methods throughout...
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Tolúk: Palauan Women’s Currency Trays

Woman's Valuables (Toluk), early to mid 20th CenturyPalau, MicronesiaTortoiseshell2019.17.32-.33Gift of Frieda O. Wray from the Estate of Dr. & Mrs. Douglas and Carolyn OsborneHave Tolúk and See ThemThe Bowers Museum recently acquired the Osborne Collection, an assemblage of objects originating from the island country of Palau—an archipelago lo...
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Feathered Funds: Solomon Island Currency Rolls

Feathered Currency Roll (Tevau), late 19th-mid 20th CenturySanta Cruz Islands, Temotu Province, Solomon Islands, MelanesiaFeather, bark, shell, fiber, resin and bead; 6 x 15 5/8 x 16 3/4 in.2001.74.14Gift of Mr. William MoranRed the Feather that CoilsWith the Bowers Museum’s recently opened Dimensions of Form: Tamayo and Mixografía, many visitors w...
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Birds of a Feather: Plumed Headdresses from Around the World

Detail of Feathered Headdress, 20th CenturyKayapo Mebêngôkre culture; Xingu River area, Para, BrazilMacaw and waterfowl feather, string and cotton; 68 x 57 in.91.34.1.1-.2Bowers Museum Acquisitions Fund PurchaseAs the Crow Flies, Not So FarBird feathers are surprisingly intricate structures: leaflike in nature with a rigid or semi-rigid midrib call...
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Two-Face: An Unfinished Tongan Paddle Club

Details of Paddle Club (Mougalaulau), mid 19th CenturyTonga, PolynesiaWood; 45 ½ in.2019.19.1Bowers Museum Purchase; Photograph courtesy of Michael HamsonEndless BufferingThe towering spires of Antoni Gaudí’s Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, the fragmented narrative of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Love of the Last Tycoon or Michelangelo’s unfinished pr...
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Night’s Bane: Fire Dance Masks of New Britain's Baining Culture

Fire Dance Mask (Vungvung), 20th CenturyBaining culture; Gazelle Peninsula, New Britain, East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea, MelanesiaBark cloth, bamboo cane and paint; 65 x 53 x 148 1/2 in.2007.6.1Gift of Anne and Long Shung ShihSparks Like Stars in the SkyHeld at torch-point against a pressing sea of night or built as a pyre to be encirc...
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Five Faces of the Moon

Composite image of the moon and objects in this post.One Giant LeapOn July 20, 1969 three humans boarded an aluminum and stainless-steel rocket, rose into the heavens and collectively became the first group to set foot on another celestial body. Taking his first apprehensive steps on the alien scape of the moon, Neil Armstrong famously said “that’s...
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Out of the Pouch: Shedding Light on a Papuan Marsupial Figure

Marsupial Figure, 1500 BCE-1600 CELaiagam Valley, Central Enga Province, Papua New Guinea, MelanesiaStone; 3 1/2 × 3 1/2 × 7 1/2 in.2019.8.1Bowers Museum PurchaseSet in StoneWhen it comes to the art of Papua New Guinea, very few things are literally set in stone. Bags are made from fiber or coir, shields and clubs from wood, ornaments from feathers...
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Gone Fishing: Catching Neptune’s Bounty on Father’s Day

Fishing Hook, late 19th to early 20th CenturyIñupiaq culture; Seward Peninsula Area, AlaskaWalrus ivory, lead, iron and cotton thread; 2 1/4 × 4 1/8 in.39352Gift of Winifred P. MorganLet’s See What’s Biting, ChampSome dads fit all the clichés. They are handy when something needs fixing, quick with a pun but otherwise tactful enough to let mom handl...
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Blade with a Beak: New Guinean Bone Daggers

Bone Daggers (Yina and Amia Ava), 20th CenturyAbelam and Iatmul culture; East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, OceaniaCassowary bone and pigment2010.22.5-.31Gift of Anne and Long Shung ShihThey do Move in HerdsUnassuming dinosaurs of the modern era that they are, cassowaries are incredible creatures. For example, though flightless they ...
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At Harms Length: Shark Tooth Spears of the Gilbert Islands

Spear Heads (Tataumanaria), late 19th CenturyI-Kiribati culture; Gilbert Islands, Kiribati, MicronesiaPalm wood, shark teeth and sennit; various dimensions2019.6.1-.2Gift of Anne and Long Shung ShihInto the MawThe Bowers Museum’s continued efforts to improve our Oceanic Collections has driven the acquisition of several shark tooth weapons from the ...
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Much Naboo About Nothing

Sculpture, late 20th CenturyPossibly Kwoma culture; Middle Sepik River Region, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, MelanesiaWood, pigment and cowrie shell; 55 in.98.18.10Gift of the Jordan Community TrustReturn of the FourthYounglings, padawans and Jedi masters, it is time to force the important issues once more! In previous years the Bowers Blo...
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Dragon Glass: Taking Stock at the Bowers Museum

Battle and Hunting Weapons, 300-1519Michoacán, MexicoObsidian; various dimensions2003.10.42C-IAnonymous GiftThe Night King ComethAs most fantasy buffs are well¬-aware, HBO’s Game of Thrones returns for the first of its final six episodes this upcoming Sunday. Not to spoil too much of the show for those who are interested in watching but have not ye...
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Bring a Shark to a Knife Fight: Short Blades of the Gilbert Islands

Knife (Tebutu), 19th CenturyI-Kiribati culture; Gilbert Islands, Kiribati, MicronesiaPalm wood, tiger shark teeth (galeocerdo cuvier) and sennit; 6 1/2 in.2019.3.1Bowers Museum PurchaseWar Changes Quite a BitIf humans have consistently been innovative in any one field, it is in the discovery of more effective ways to injure one another. Often heavi...
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Progenitor Protection: Wooden Shields of the Asmat

War Shields, 20th CenturyCentral and Northern Asmat culture; Papua (Irian Jaya) Province, Indonesia, MelanesiaWood, pigment and sago-frond; Various Dimensions2017.10.148, L.2010.4.4, F75.16.1 and 2006.19.1Anonymous Gift, Bowers Museum General Acquisition Fund Purchase, Loan courtesy of Gayle and Edward P. Roski and Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Meyer BelloY...
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Death and the Ideal Man: New Ireland Tatanua Masks

Men wearing tatanua masks at a sing-sing in Libba Village, New Ireland, New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea.Taken during the Roski-Keller-Martin Expedition to the New Ireland Province in 2008.Acceptance When we think of masks in western culture, we most often think of tools used to disguise one’s identity. In most other cultures in the worl...
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Shell to Pay: Boiken Wamayuwa and Weingga

Shell Currency (Wamayuwa), 19th CenturyYangoru Boiken culture; Prince Alexander Mountains, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, MelanesiaShell (tridacna gigas); 9 7/8 x 8 ¼ in.2018.13.63Gift of Anne and Long Shung ShihAll the Money in the WorldThe Bowers Blog has spent a great deal of time exploring currency in its myriad shapes and sizes. From t...
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Splash of Color: Massim Canoe Prow Boards

Splashboard (Lagim), 20th CenturyMassim culture; Trobriand Islands, Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, OceaniaWood and paint; 32 5/8 x 25 5/8 x 2 5/8 in.2011.11.2Collected on behalf of the Bowers Museum by the Roski-Keller-Martin Expeditions 2000-2008Art of the DealWhen it comes to making deals, everyone wants a leg up on the competit...
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Fibers of History: Tongan Tapa Cloths

Detail of Tapa Cloth (Ngatu), 20th CenturyTongan culture; Tonga, PolynesiaPounded tree bark and pigment; 78 x 152 in.93.18.1Donated by Jeff and Laura BlackieCloth With a BarkTapa cloth, a barkcloth made from the inner bark of trees, is one of the most distinctive products made by the cultures of the Pacific Islands and remains at the heart of Pacif...
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The Clay Day of Papuan Vessels

Ceremonial Vessel (Kwam), 19th to 20th CenturyAbelam culture; Wambisa Village, Maprik District, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, MelanesiaClay, red, white and orange ochre; 3 ¼ x 9 3/8 x 7 3/8 in.2018.7.16Gift of Michael HamsonVessel VarietyPerhaps above all else, Papua New Guinea is best-known for its variety. As many as 850 languages are sp...
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Blade with a Bite: The Shark Tooth Swords of the Gilbert Islands

Club Sword (Te Toanea), mid 19th CenturyI-Kiribati culture; Gilbert Islands, Republic of Kiribati, MicronesiaWood, shark teeth, fiber, tapa and human hair; 34 1/2in.2018.9.1Gift of Mark BlackburnWhirling DervishBarring the outlandish Sharknado franchise, when we hear the phrase “shark attack,” the assumption is that we would have to be in the ocean...
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Moana Materials: Polynesian Art in Disney’s Moana

Tapa Cloth (Ngata), 20th CenturyTongan culture; Tonga, PolynesiaPounded tree bark and pigment; 78 x 152 in.93.18.1Donated by Jeff and Laura BlackieTrip to MotunuiWhen Walt Disney Animation Studios released Moana (2016) to a tidal wave of good reviews, the Bowers Museum was overjoyed to see Polynesian culture and art achieve broad recognition within...
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Yam Digging Sticks of the Abelam

Digging Sticks, 20th CenturyAbelam culture; East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia Wood and paint99.76.141; 2011.13.4; 97.138.1; and 2015.7.2Anonymous Gift; Bowers Museum Purchase; Anonymous Gift; and Gift of Mr. Michael HamsonInductionIn the United States we understand competition all too well. We compete with neighbors over having the s...
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Hawaiian Lei Niho Palaoa

Necklace (Lei Niho Palaoa), early 19th CenturyHawaiian culture; Hawaii, United States, PolynesiaHair, fiber and walrus ivory; 11 1/4 x 7 7/8 x 2 1/2 in.2018.5.1Bowers Museum PurchasePhotograph courtesy of BonhamsA New AcquisitionWhen it comes to Hawaiian necklaces, the subject can be a somewhat hairy one, though perhaps not for the reasons one migh...
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The Niue Club in Town

Cleaving Club (Ula-fumiti), early to mid 19th CenturyNiuean culture; Niue Island, PolynesiaWood; 68 7/8 x 5 x 1 ¼ in.2018.4.1Bowers Museum PurchaseBehold the Cook-o-nutCaptain Cook was the first European to travel to Niue, a small island in the middle of Polynesia, when he landed ashore late in the spring of 1774. His welcome to the small tropical ...
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Kept in Suspense: The Samban of the Iatmul

Suspension Hook (Samban), c. 1930Iatmul culture; Suapmeri Village, Middle Sepik River region, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, OceaniaWood and pigment; 25 1/4 × 14 1/2 × 4 in.2017.1.1Bowers Museum PurchaseWhoa Black Betty, TshambwanSave perhaps for weekend trips to big box Swedish furniture stores, we generally do not spend much ti...
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Grand Admiralty Island Feast Bowl

Feast Bowl, late 19th CenturyMatankol culture; Lou Island, Admiralty Islands, Manus Province, Bismarck Archipelago, Papua New Guinea, MelanesiaWood and parinarium nut paste; 24 ½ x 54 ½ x 41 in. 2018.1.1Bowers Museum PurchaseHomes on the neighboring M'Buke Island.Photograph by Peter Keller, 2006.King of BowlsOf the many types of wooden bowl from th...
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Kava Drink: Fijian Yaqona Bowls and Dishes

Yaqona Bowl (Tanoa), late 19th to early 20th CenturyFiji, PolynesiaWood; 7 1/2 x 22 7/16 x 21 in. 99.43.7Donated by Rear Admiral Ralph and Sara GarrisonKava ChameleonWithin the last few decades, kava has found its way into the American social scene as a niche alternative to alcohol in being both a mild relaxant and an avenue to potential liver dama...
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Shields of Mendi Valley

Shields (Wörrumbi), 20th CenturyMendi culture; Southern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea, MelanesiaWood, pigments and fiber; Various Dimensions2017.10.163, 2003.43.3, 2017.10.143Anonymous GiftOn the MendiIn an early 20th Century effort to pacify Papua New Guinea, Australian colonial administrators began a campaign of suppressing tribal warfare....
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Tami Feast Bowls and Yam-ey Thanksgivings

Feast Bowl, 20th CenturyCape Gloucester, West New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea, MelanesiaWood and pigment; 9 × 44 1/2 × 25 1/4 in.2014.15.14Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Danny and Anne ShihBird is the WordThanksgiving is now upon us. Even in its earliest rendition, it was a celebration of thanks through the sharing of food with friends, family, and ne...
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Fijian Kiakavo Dance Clubs

Dance Clubs (Kiakavo), 19th CenturyFiji, PolynesiaWood, fiber and pigment97.138.13, .17, and 2015.17.10Anonymous Gift and The George Stanley Lodin CollectionTwo late 19th Century  Fijian men hold clubs across their laps for a staged photograph. Bowers Museum CollectionGift of Mr. E. Morgan StanleyFijian Club SceneUp until and in the few d...
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Perfect Rings: Dimbo of Cenderawasih Bay

Glass Earrings (Dimbo), 19th CenturyWaropen culture; Cenderawasih (Geelvink) Bay, Papua Province, Indonesia, MelanesiaGlass2017.8.1-.5Bowers Museum PurchaseThough we may think of it now as an isolated, inaccessible part of the world, New Guinea has always been rich in organic and mineral resources; the peoples of its coasts welcome partners to comm...
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Shark Caller's Tools

Shark Caller's Tools, 20th centuryKontu culture, Island of New Ireland, Papua New GuineaWood, reed, bamboo, coconut and paint 2002.65.1.1-.3Bowers Museum Purchase courtesy of the Trude Jordan FundThe Kontu people of the Island of New Ireland, Papua New Guinea use ritual customs to capture and kill sharks. Shark Callers believe that ancestral s...
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