The Fiji Museum - Virtual Museum

Female figurine

A squat female image sculpted from a Sperm Whale tooth. Worshipped in Fiji as ancestor images, this one has a red-brown colour from being smoked over a fire fed with small pieces of sugar cane or the sugar tuber of Cordyline terminalis. Holes for the attachment of a suspension cord have been bored into the back of her head with two sets of holes being worn through by the cord, indicating considerable age. The right arm is missing but the break is very old. The arm socket has been pierced with two intercepting holes, indicating that the missing arm was once lashed to the body with a Tongan or Samoan canoe builder's knot. The figure was smoked after the breaking of this limb. An old break across her buttocks indicates she may have once been part of a back-to-back pair of identical images. The facial features are done in a Tongan style that sees the majority of features hardly developed except for the ears, which are well formed with lobes whirling about deeply drilled ear holes. Height: 10cm; Width at shoulders: 5.5cm.

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