Tongan people / Female Figure / Early 19th CenturyTongan people
Female Figure
Early 19th Century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Pacific; Polynesian; Tongan
Creator Name-CRT: Tongan people
Title: Female Figure
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1800
Creation End Date: 1833
Creation Date: Early 19th Century
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Whale ivory
Dimensions: H. 5 1/4 in. (13.3 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.206.1470
Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979

Although most Polynesian peoples appear to have made and used human images, few such objects have survived to the present day. Most were destroyed under the influence of Christian missionaries, who viewed such sculptures as "graven images." Small female figures in ivory were known from the Tongan archipelago as early as the late eighteenth century. Formerly referred to as goddesses, these figures are now thought to represent important female ancestors. A number of Tongan ivories were traded to the neighboring Fiji islands, where they were used during religious rites. This particularly expressive example was collected on the Fijian island of Viti Levu by the Reverend Cyril G. Hawdon in 1868.

AMICA ID: MMA_.1979.206.1470
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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