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A Superb Old Solomon Islands Bowl Santa Catalina Islands Southeast Solomon’s

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Collection No. TB-406
Size Length 34cm
New Guinea Oceanic Art
New Guinea & Oceanic Art
Abelam New Guinea Art
Asian & Japan Scholars Art
Asian Buddhist Art

A Superb Old Solomon Islands Offering Bowl Santa Catalina Islands Southeast Solomon Islands 

Finely hand-carved wood bowl, deeply hallowed in an ovoid form and standing on an oval-shaped base,  decorated around the top edge with a band of X-shaped hand-carved inlaid pearl shells with notched edges and decorated on both of the sides of the bowl with shell mosaics depicting a frigate bird.

Elaborate bowls such as this were important ritual objects used during the initiation ceremonies of the Bonito Fish Society, a high-ranking group of men and boys in the community. The bowls were filled with food and offered up to the spirits as part of the initiation.  Offering bowls like this example were kept in the sacred Canoe House which was the center for ceremonies & for the storage of ceremonial objects including fish-shaped carved wood coffins that held the ancestral remains of important clan members

The frigate bird not only embodied many valued characteristics such as agility and speed, it was also admired for its fierce and aggressive hunting skills as well as its ability to find schools of sacred bonito fish. This beautiful piece exemplifies the important bonds that existed between the visual traditions and the spiritual beliefs of the Solomon Islanders.

Birds and fish are prominent in life rituals and art in the Solomon Islands. The small shape of the bowl indicates that it was probably used by individuals in ritual communion feasts with their tutelary spirits. (Davenport, William, “Sculpture of the Eastern Solomons”, Expedition, Journal of the University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, vol. 10, 2, pp. 6-7).

Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of Solomon Islands Oceanic Art. 

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