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Canoe Ornament from Vao Island Vanuatu

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Collection No. TB-2988
Size (43cm)
Canoe Ornament from Vao Island Vanuatu
Canoe Ornament from Vao Island Vanuatu

This simple elegant bird form canoe ornament is from the small Island called Vao off the Northeast Coast of Malekula Island in Vanuatu. The stylised bird totem that sat at the front of the canoe was a clear sign of the persons status in the men’s secret societies that are part of Vanuatu traditional culture.  Birds are important designs in traditional Vanuatu & Solomon Islands Art.

Vanuatu was once known as The New Hebrides it was a joint  British & French colony until independence in 1980 when the name was changed independent Vanuatu.  Vanuatu is an archipelago of Islands with many distinct languages and cultures.  The traditional cultures in Vanuatu have remained strong.  The ancient system of ” Grade Taking ” in the Men’ Secret Societies is still practised.

Provenance: Ex Nicolai Michoutchkine Collection. Nicolai (1925- 2010) and his partner Aloi were well known artists living in Port Villa for a very long time. They had an extensive oceanic collection that was toured around the world for many years.  They were old friends of mine and I bought many Oceanic Artworks from them in the 1990’s.


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