The visual arts of Polynesia offer a richly diverse and relatively little known body of work, covering an enormous geographical area yet linked by shared artistic conventions. The collection of Mark and Carolyn Blackburn encompasses this broad field of artistic endeavor. It features both ceremonial and functional traditional forms in diverse media, from delicate ivory ornaments and decorated barkcloth to formidable weaponry and imposing sculpture in coral, wood, and stone.
The geographic spread of the collection is vast, covering the Pacific Ocean from Hawai‘i to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) to ‘Aotearoa (New Zealand), and the many islands in between. Many of the pieces have noteworthy historical antecedents, such as items associated with the eighteenth-century voyages of Captain Cook, and the Dupetit-Thouars material from the Marquesas, first collected by the nineteenth-century French admiral of that name. Items from each geographic and cultural area are described within their cultural and historical context: ‘Aotearoa (New Zealand), the Austral Islands, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Futuna, the Gambier Islands, Hawai‘i, Malden, the Marquesas Islands, Niue Island, Nukuoro Island, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Rennell Island, Rotuma Island, Samoa, Tahiti, Takuu, Tokelau, Tonga, and the Tuamotu Islands.
In Polynesia, the visual arts and their associated objects serve as physical representations of the underlying aesthetic, social, and religious aspects of the island cultures. In some cases, these eloquent objects may be all that remains to speak of these once-living traditions.
- 448 pages, 9 x 12 x 1.5 in.
- 804 color illustrations