Solomon Islands figure

Solomon Islands figure

western or southern Solomon Islands
wood, mother of pearl shell, palm fibre
52.5cm
1st half of 20th century
ex. D. Curtis, Santa Fe, New Mexico - by decent
£ please email



Wooden figures from the western and southern Solomon Islands - New Georgia, Florida, San Cristobal and Santa Ana - would normally represent a particular person, or perhaps a clan chief, and can be carved with realistic characteristics, classical, or more creative in their rendition. Very little is known about their real significance or function, which is likely to vary from area to area anyway.
There is a bowl with a very similar face collected on San Cristobal in the Barbier-Müller collection, published in Art of the Solomon Islands, D. Waite, 1983 - plat 14.
The blond hair is typical on Solomon Island children, which has always puzzled Europeans and other visitors over the centuries. Recent field research by academics from Stanford University has concluded it is associated with the gene TYRP1 on chromosome 9. This gene encodes a protein enzyme recognised as influencing pigmentation, hence the unusual sight of blond headed children with dark Melanesian skin.
The mother of pearl shell inlay represents the designs painted on the faces of Solomon Islanders during ceremonies and initiation rites. More frequently young men and boys, but not unknown of females.
Most likely to be from the 1st quarter of the 20th century.


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