You're viewing this item in the new Europeana website. View this item in the original Europeana.

canoe stern figure ?

The black varnish has worn away on the belly, nose and front of the arms and legs. Two old labels read 'Aitutaki' and E.360 and a painted label also reads E360. CULT unknown late 18th century Aitutaki, Cook Islands Polynesia This figure has the stylised face and elongated eyes typical of the idols of the Cook Islands. Its swollen belly is decorated with zigzags, indicating that the figure is from Aitutaki in the central Cook Islands. Parts of the body and legs have been painted with barely-distinguishable black bands and the stand upon which it is mounted suggests the figure may have come from the prow of a canoe.
The idol has been coated with the black varnish used on many Old Hunterian objects, indicating that it may have been part of this collection. In this case it seems likely that it may be one of the 'wooden idols' mentioned by Laskey in his 1813 account.
It has been included in the Robertson catalogue as 'William Hunter from Captain Cook' on unknown evidence, however if the attribution to Aitutaki is correct it cannot have been collected by Captain Cook.