Rare Pair of Micronesian Caroline Islands Mortlock Islands Idols

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Object Description

A Rare Pair of Micronesian Caroline Islands Mortlock Islands Idols
The crouching Male and Female figures with stylised facial features the oval eyes inlaid with shell
Smooth old brown patina displaying extensive use and handling
Late 19th Century / Early 20th Century

Size:
a: 16.5cm high – 6½ ins high
b: 16cm high – 6¼ ins high

Object History

Ex collection Captain Robert E. Donnelly reputedly collected in the ‘field’ circa 1900’s

cf: A similar example of a single figure in the Collections of Metropolitan Museum New York 2003.8

Object Literature

These striking abstract squatting figures with almost mask-like heads occur throughout the western Caroline Islands and probably functioned as ancestor images. An American sailor Horace Holden, shipwrecked in 1832, described a religious structure on Hatobei Island….. ‘carved images are placed in different parts of the building and are supposed to personate their deity’ (Holden 1836 pg. 85 – 86, cited in Wavell 2002 pg. 67) One hundred years later Atsushi Someki, a Japanese anthropologist, stated that these seated figures were ancestor images kept in special positions in the house, and as in other locations in the Pacific, they depict remote or recent forebears who could be honoured with offerings and asked for assistance in times of need.

Object Details

Dealer Opening Times

By appointment only.

Dealer Contact

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+44 (0)20 7689 7500
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+44 (0)7768 236921/+44 (0)7836 684133
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Dealer Location

Suite 744
2 Old Brompton Road
London
SW7 3DQ

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