- Museum number
Breast ornament 'civavonovono', breast-plate made of a black lipped pearl-shell surrounded by five pieces of cachalot (sperm whale) ivory with serrated outer edges. The pieces are secured with metal rivets through drilled holes, and with gum. The centre of the plate is decorated with a star shaped piece of ivory. Two suspension ties of coconut fibre cord.
- Production date
- 19thC(early)-19thC(late) (before 1904)
Height: 19 centimetres (excluding ties)
Width: 20 centimetres
Depth: 3 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Information from Pacific Art in Detail: This kind of composite breastplate made of precious whale ivory and shell is a sign of status. The dark center of the object is made of iridescent pearl shell, and features a star motif common in Tonga. The earliest examples are bound together by the canoe-builder neatly hidden lashings whereas later ones, such as this, make use of metal rivets, obtained in trade with Europeans.
Tongan canoe builders living in Fiji would have made this impressive 'civavonovono'. This breastplate covered only a hand-sized portion of the chest, but chiefs still worn them into battle. They were considered to provide supernatural protection.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2009 1 May-2011 13 Jan, BM, Gallery 2, 'Continuity and Change: cultural dynamism in the modern world'
2016-2017 15 Oct-25 Feb, Norwich, UEA, Sainsbury centre, Fiji: Art and life in the Pacific
2019-2021 15 Dec-2 May, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Fiji: Art & Life in the Pacific
- Reasonable, apart from rust on rivets.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Sir William Allardyce was in Fiji from 1879-1904.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number