Headrest, Tonga Island
length 22 1/8in (56cm)
St. Cartmail, Keith, The Art of Tonga, University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu, HI, 1997, fig. 20
This elegant headrest is finely decorated with inlaid (now replaced with later) mother-of-pearl shell inlay on the upper surface; the arched feet are finely bound with vegetable fiber; rich reddish-brown patina.
In discussing this headrest, St. Cartmail notes, "Another unusual kali...is one of impeccable Tongan provenance that was given to me in New Zealand. Although essentially a kali toloni in terms of structure, it is distinguished by the relatively ornateness of its top, carved from one piece of wood, which is also decorated with mother of pearl inlay. This kali epitomises variation, but let it be said that whatever variations exist, one indisputable fact emerges from a study of these head-pillows - the fact that they are a notable Polynesian art form that follows function, an art form at the same time endowed with simple grace, economy and elegance." (1997: p. 57)