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