Extremely Fine Fan Handle, Marquesas Islands
height 12 3/8in (31.5cm)
American Private Collection
Cf. Kjellgren and Ivory (2005: fig. 52).
According to Kjellgren and Ivory (ibid.), "Distinctively shaped fans, or tahi'i, were carried by toa (warriors), tau'a (ritual specialists, and other high-ranking men and women as status markers. Displayed on important occasions, especially feasts, their visual impact was enhanced by the elegant manner with which they were carried, particularly by women.
...The earliest fans described and collected in the late eighteenth century had smooth wood handles that flared slightly to echo the shape of the blade. Shortly after 1800, however, the handles became more ornate and were carved in the form of human figures, shown back-to-back and stacked one on top of the other...
...The wood handles from the Metropolitan Museum (cat. no. 52) and the Blackburn Collection (cat. no. 53) are more complex than the bone examples. The tiki on the upper register of the Metropolitan's handle consist of only heads, while the lower pair are full figures. There is no open space between them. By contrast, on the Blackburn handle, the upper pair are half figures...while the lower pair are shown as complete figures [in contrast to the work presented here with both the upper and lower figures as full figures]. The overall composition [of the Blackburn handle, similar to the handle presented here] has more openwork and includes additional motifs in low relief that suggest faces or eyes...These stylistic attributes suggest that the two fans [as well as the handle presented here] were made between 1820 and 1850."