- Museum number
Feast bowl of wood in the form of a long trough with a crocodile head at one end, a man at the other, and men along the sides.
- Production date
- 19thC (before 1891)
Height: 31 centimetres
Length: 692 centimetres
Width: 26 centimetres
- Curator's comments
In a note filed under British Museum correspondence 1904, Davis appears to describe this bowl: "Kiki dish - taken from the Head Quarters of the Rubiana Head hunters in the Rubiana Lagoon Solomon Islands when those villages were destroyed by HMS Royalist in September 1891 - after a raid on neighbouring villages the cooked captives were eaten from this bowl by the captors."
The bowl was published and illustrated by James Edge-Partington (Man 1903 No.91) with an account by C. M. Woodford of a feast at Sisieta in which taro, yams and nuts were pounded in such a bowl to inaugurate it in a martial ceremony. Edge-Partington speculates that Woodford may have been describing the same bowl, but his son Thomas Edge-Partington, a Deputy Commissioner stationed in the western Solomons, contradicts this (Man 1906 No.79) saying the bowl "is from Koli kongo, a village much higher up the lagoon". He added that the Roviana chief "Ingova assured me time after time that they never eat men from the trough; the heads are always there during the ceremony, but no human meat was eaten from it."
Davis, in a letter to Hercules Read of the British Museum (21-22 September 1903) recounts giving the bowl to Lord Charles Scott "on the understanding that he was not to part with it, and that if he even thought of doing so, I was to have the first refusal of it. It would have been a welcome addition to my lot and whoever wanted it would have had to take the whole collection as it is .....isting rare."
In view of this letter, Deborah Waite, reviewing the history of the bowl (2000, Journal of the Polynesian Society Vol.109 pp.120-122) appears mistaken in identifying it with item 325 in Davis' sales catalogue LIST OF ETHNOGRAPHICAL OBJECTS.
The present spelling of the island is Kalikoqu.
1903 register description:
Long wooden trough, cut from solid & painted, one end represents a crocodile head, the other the crocodile's tail clasped by an anthropomorphic figure, whose legs are being swallowed by a shark.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2018 18 Sept-9 Dec, London, Royal Academy of Arts, Oceania
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Collected on Admiral Davis' second voyage on the HMS Royalist to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, specifically between 3rd June 1891 and 25th August 1891.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number