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Collections > Native American
David Boxley, born in 1952, is an accomplished artist and cultural icon for his people and region. He has dedicated his life to revitalizing the Tsimshian language, songs and dance, and culture to his people with great success. He is from Metlakatla, Alaska, an Anglican re-settlement of his ancestors designed to remove them from their indigenous lives and practices. He had no traditional teachers, rather, he learned carving methods through researching ethnographic material and carvings in museum collections. By using these skills, Boxley has become a nationally recognized Indian artist holding one-man shows in Washington D.C., and throughout the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Hawaii and Europe.
It was on one of Coeâ€™s many driving excursions to the Northwest Coast that he found this cane in a curio shop in Ketchikan, Alaska in 1977. That would make this piece one of Boxleyâ€™s earlier works. Coeâ€™s friend, Dolores Churchill, who was a Haida basketweaver suggested that he check out this shop.
See David Boxley's website.
Pair of rawhide-backed beaded cuffs.
Indian Girls.Pair of beaded Converse Tennis shoes.
Collections > Oceanic
The Maori are the indigenous people of Aotearoa, the traditional name for New Zealand. Carved boxes such as this one were traditionally used to hold personal ornaments and other prized possesions. The name waka hui, actually translates to feather box and this is where extinct huia tail feathers were stored. These feathers are worn as hair ornaments for both men and women of royal status. Earlier boxes are usually more elaborately decorated on the underside because that was the most visible part when suspended from the rafters of homes.
The Massim people live in Milne Bay Province, the eastern most region of the New Guinea mainland, located just above Australia in the South Pacific. This area includes the Trobriand Islands (now known as the Kiriwina Islands) and are part of the nation of Papua New Guinea.
According to Trobriand Chief Narubutua, human figure spatulas such as this one were used for magical protection during kula voyages. To that purpose, the magician called on the spirit (tokwai) to enter the figure and protect the owner during his sleep. These voyages were undertaken as part of the exchange system known as the kula ring which were linked to political power. Participants traveled at times hundreds of miles by canoe in order to exchange kula valuables.
The Cook Islands are comprised of fifteen islands in the South Pacific Ocean. Cook Islands ceremonial adzes hail from the island of Mangaia, and often utilize stone blades of pre-contact origin. The blades were highly prized for their reverse triangular design and fine finishing. The wooden handles were elaborately carved with a double-K motif. The stone blade was lashed to the carved handle with hand-made plaited sennit. The construction and use of these ornate adzes ended after missionary contact.
The Tami Islands are a small group of islands in the Huon Gulf and part of the Morobe Province in Papua New Guinea. Even previous to European contact the Tami Island native peoples were known throughout the South Sea Islands as master carvers of elaborately carved bowls, figures, and ceremonial masks.
Coe believed that this figure represented a mythological ancestor being bitten on the penis by the mythical selam snake, a creature that seduces and kills youths. The projection on top of the figureâ€™s head represents a feather headdress. However, it may also be the remainder of a device in which the piece was hung in a ceremonial house.