Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Standing male figure; made of wood (probably ironwood) and coir. Three small male figures are carved on the chest, and two figures (also male) are carved on each arm. Each arm has coir bindings with traces of barkcloth and feathers.

  • Ethnic name

  • Date

    • 18thC(late)-19thC(early)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 69 centimetres
    • Width: 15.5 centimetres
    • Height: 70.5 Missing value (Full height including attached support 'shoes')
  • Curator's comments

    See: Buck, P H 'Arts and Crafts of the Cook Islands' 1944, 1971, Honolulu, Hawaii, Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin 179, p.315-316, fig.194. And T. Barrow, 'The Art of Tahiti', London, Thames and Hudson, 1979, p.78-79.The eye form (an eye with two lids and a brow) can be seen in other examples of Rarotongan sculpture, such as the staff god, Oc1919,1014.1.

    Emasculation of such figures was usual missionary practice, but this rare example survives intact. A comparable example can be found in Ortiz, G., 1994, No.274. In pursuit of the absolute: art of the ancient world from the George Ortiz collection. London: Royal Academy of Art.

    Comparisons have been drawn between this figure and the casket figure from Rurutu, Oc,LMS.19.Hooper 2006
    This large male figure has three smaller ones in high relief on the chest, plus two further figures in low relief on each arm, all male. Coir arm bindings cover traces of barkcloth and feathers. It is extremely heavy, probably made of ironwood (Casuarina equisetifolia) which takes a high polish. No information is known about its original use, but it is attributed to Rarotonga on the basis of its distinctive eye form (an eye, two lids and one brow), similar to that on the staff gods (nos 192-3). It has escaped being emasculated, despite its missionary collectors; only one other comparable example is known (Ortiz, G.,1994, 'In pursuit of the absolute: art of the ancient world from the George Ortiz collection,' London: Royal Academy of Art: no. 274). A formal relationship with the Rurutu casket image (no. 156) has been widely noted.


  • Bibliography

    • Hooper 2006 191 bibliographic details
    • Adams et al 2016 p.37, fig.19 bibliographic details
    • Gunn 2014 pp.52-53 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    2006 21 May-13 Aug, Norwich, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Pacific Encounters
    2006-2007 28 Sept-7 Jan, London, BM, Power and Taboo
    2008 16 Jun-14 Sep, Paris, Musée du quai Branly, Pacific Encounters
    2014 23 May-3 Aug, Canberra, National Gallery of Australia, Atua: Sacred art from Polynesia
    2014-2015 12 Oct-4 Jan, St Louis Art Museum, Atua: Sacred art from Polynesia

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • Oc1890,Loan (originally loaned to BM in 1890 by LMS)
    • Oc1911C27.169 (old CDMS no.)
Male figure (standing) made of wood, sinnet.

Front:Left Side

Male figure (standing) made of wood, sinnet.

Image description



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Object reference number: EOC13154

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