Chapter 36: Oceania Before 1980



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Chapter 36: Oceania Before 1980
Preview: This chapter looks at art before 1980 of the various Oceanic cultures located in the South Pacific in Australia and Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. In Australia, Aboriginal artists made works representing ancestral spirits. The Asmat of New Guinea erected bisj poles that figured in headhunting rituals. In Melanesian and Micronesian cultures, masks and seafaring themes figure prominently. The oldest monumental art of Oceania is the series of monolithic sculptured heads, or moai, located on Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Artists throughout Polynesia use barkcloth for a variety of purposes, and tattooing is a widespread practice. The Maori of New Zealand are noted for their meetinghouses, which are adorned with carved representations of ancestors. Hawaiian artists erected statues to their gods, and produced elaborate regalia to be worn by kings and other high-ranking men.
Key Cultural Terms: Aboriginals, Dreamings, “Big Men,” Hevehe, ma-hevehe, kula, mana

Key Art & Architectural Terms: meetinghouses, barge boards, ridgepole, pou tokomanawa, moko tattoo, bisj pole, cemen, tatanua masks, bai, Dilukai, moai, monoliths, ahu, pukao, ngatu, kautaha, kupesi, tapa, manulua, tiki, tattoo/tatau/tatu, moko, poupou, heiau
Lecture Notes:
Introductory Notes:

OCEANIA BEFORE 1980

Australia and Melanesia:

Australia:


  • Auuenau, from Western Arnhem Land, Australia, 1913

    • Materials, scale:

    • Description, subject & stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:


New Guinea:

  • Ambum Stone, Papua New Guinea, ca. 1500 BCE

    • Medium, scale:

    • Description, subject & stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Asmat bisj poles, Buepis village, Fajit River, Casuarina Coast, Irian Jaya, Melanesia, early to mid-20th century

    • Materials, scale:

    • Description, subject & stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Iatmul ceremonial men’s house, East Sepik, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, mid- to late-20th century

    • Description & materials:

    • Architectural features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Elema hevehe masks retreating into the men’s house, Orokolo Bay, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, early to mid-20th century

    • Materials, scale:

    • Description, subject & stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Abelam yam mask, from Maprik district, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, early to mid-20th century

    • Materials, scale:

    • Description, subject & stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:




New Ireland and the Trobriand Islands:


  • Tatanua mask, from New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, 19th to 20th centuries

    • Materials, scale:

    • Description, subject & stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Canoe prow and splashboard, from Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, 19th to 20th centuries

    • Medium, scale:

    • Description, subject & stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:


Micronesia:
Caroline Islands:

  • Canoe prow ornament, from Chuuk, Caroline Islands, Micronesia, late 19th century

    • Materials, scale:

    • Description, subject & stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Men’s ceremonial house, from Belau (Palau), Micronesia, 20th century

    • Description & architectural features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Dilukai, from Belau (Paulau), Micronesia, late 19th or early 20th century

    • Medium, scale:

    • Description, subject & stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:


Polynesia:
Rapa Nui (Easter Island):

  • Row of moai on a stone platform, Rapa Nui, Polynesia, 10th to 12th centuries

    • Materials, scale:

    • Description, subject & stylistic features:

    • Significance:


Tonga:


  • Mele Sitani, ngatu with manulua designs, Tonga, Polynesia, 1967

    • Materials:

    • Description & stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:


Marquesas, Austral, and Cook Islands:


  • Hair ornaments, from the Marquesas Islands, Polynesia, early to mid-19th century

    • Materials, scale:

    • Description, subject & stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Rarotonga staff god, 19th or early 20th century

    • Materials, scale:

    • Description, subject & stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Tattooed warrior with war club, Nukahiva, Marquesas Islands, Polynesia, early 19th century

    • Description:

    • Significance:

  • A’a, from Rurutu, Austral Islands, Polynesia, late 18th or early 19th century

    • Materials, scale:

    • Description, subject & stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:


Hawaii:

  • Kuka’ilimoku, from Hawaii, Polynesia, late 18th or early 19th century

    • Materials, scale:

    • Description, subject & stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Head of Lono, from Hawaii, Polynesia, ca. 1775-1780

    • Materials, scale:

    • Description, subject & stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Feather cloak, from Hawaii, Polynesia, ca. 1824-1843

    • Materials, scale:

    • Description, subject & stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:


New Zealand:


  • Raharuhi Rukupo and others, interior of Te Hau-ki-Turanga meetinghouse, Poverty Bay, New Zealand, Polynesia, 1842-45

    • Description:

    • Architectural and sculptural features:

    • Function & significance:

Concluding notes:


Exercises for Study:

1. Define the following terms, associate them with a specific culture and describe their function:



bisj pole

Tatanua mask

Dilukai

moai

2. Discuss the role of ancestors in artworks of the Asmat and Iatmul.

3. What is the origin of the word tattoo? Historically, what is the function of the tattoo in Polynesian cultures?

4. Compare and contrast the following pair of artworks, using the points of comparison as a guide.



A. Te Hau-ki-Turanga meetinghouse (Fig. 36-1); Iatmul ceremonial men’s house (Fig. 36-4)

  • Cultures:

  • Structural features:

  • Function & use:

B. Hair ornaments, from the Marquesas Islands (Fig. 36-14); A’a, from Rurutu, Austral Islands (Fig. 36-16)

  • Materials:

  • Subjects:

  • Function of objects:


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