Exceptional Ceremonial Paddle, Austral Islands

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Lot 22
Exceptional Ceremonial Paddle, Austral Islands

Sold for US$ 53,750 inc. premium
Exceptional Ceremonial Paddle, Austral Islands
hoe
Wood (probably tamanu)
length 64 1/4in (163.2cm)

Provenance
Private Dutch Collection
Private American Collection

According to Rhys Richards, 'Though widely called "paddles," these objects are not functional paddles. They are 'paddle shaped,' but their sizes are too extreme; their shafts are too weak, and they are thoroughly unsuitable for use as paddles. Consequently it has been assumed that they were emblems of rank or status, for ceremonial rather than functional use.'

Rhys continues, 'There are good grounds for asserting however that few if any "paddles" were made and exported after 1842. Firstly, the population decline was extreme, particularly among the adults, and dead men made no paddles. By 1840 the total population on Tubuai had fallen to 250 and on Raivavae to 360. If half were children, and half the adult were female, then the pool of adult men who could have been potential carvers, was about 90 and 60 for the two islands respectively. Actual carvers would have been even fewer, particularly if as previously, carvers had been a select group. However, according to the mission records, by then most of these men would have been Christians, whose devout moral advisers actively discouraged traditional arts.' (The Austral Islands: History, Art and Art History, New Zealand, 2012, pp 141-145)

Finely decorated around the pommel with sixteen representative carved human faces and hollowed out, the cylindrical shaft and enormous, elegant spade-form blade carved throughout with exceedingly fine incised "sunburst" design; rich and glossy dark-brown patina overall.
Contacts
Exceptional Ceremonial Paddle, Austral Islands
Exceptional Ceremonial Paddle, Austral Islands
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