- Museum number
Human skull overmodelled with vegetable putty, painted black and inlaid with pearlshell for eyes and lines around eyes and jaw, with circular wooden ear ornaments (secured with nails) and hair of plant fibre.
- Production date
- 1850-1902 (circa)
Height: 20 centimetres
Width: 16 centimetres
Depth: 23 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Register reads: Over-modelled skull. Nose and other soft parts replaced by wooden models, whole covered with black gum. ........ / Ronongo Is.
Dorota Starzecka amended the registration slip from 'Ronongo Is' to 'Ranongga I. (New Georgia Group)'.
In the New Georgia group of western Solomon Islands, the skulls of some important ancestors were modelled with vegetable putty and inlaid with pearlshell to be kept in shrines. However, there are suggestions that trophy skulls might also be treated in this way, and also that in the early 20th century skulls from obscure sources were modelled and inlaid for sale to Europeans, who had demonstrated their desire for them by theft and purchase. Frank Wickham, from whom this head was obtained, would have had ample opportunity to aquire it as a well-established trader in the New Georgia group from 1875 to 1908, under the patronage of the headhunting chief Ingava of Roviana.
Rhys Richards has collated and summarised the available data on examples of western Solomons ancestral skulls, both modelled and with shell valuables, from documentary sources and museum collections around the world. (Richards, R. 2012 Headhunters Black and White, esp. Ch. 7, Paremata Press, Welllington)
Contemporary restrictions apply to the viewing of images of this object or photograph. If you wish to access this image, please contact the department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas (email@example.com).
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Register reads: Given by F. Wickham Esq 31.5.02
Frank Wickham was a trader in the New Georgia group from 1875 to 1908.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number