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A Fine Old Polynesian Headrest or Neckrest from Tonga Islands 19th Century


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Collection No. TB-4071
Size Length 46cm Height 17cm
Oceanic Arts Australia buys and sells tribal New Guinea art

A Fine Old Polynesian Headrest or Neckrest is from Tonga Islands dating from the late 19th Century

This elegant form Headrest or Neckrest is from the Tonga Islands which is a group of Islands that is part of Polynesia in the Southern Pacific Ocean.  This type of Headrest is traditionally called “kali hahapo”, they are carved from a single piece of hardwood. This old and well used Headrest dates from the late 19th Century

Headrests that were used by people of chiefly descent were tapu or sacred because the head is considered sacred and should not be touched.  Headrests were also used to help keep a man’s elaborate hairstyle from being disturbed while sleeping.

The headrest is imbued with an especially significant spirituality because of its association with the mystical aura of sleep. Sleep was recognized as the most intimate relationship with the spirit realm, therefore the decoration on headrests was especially intertwined with their spiritual beliefs, and the human head is associated with concepts of power, therefore anything that was created to support this power was subsequently revered.

These beautiful form headrests are highly regarded by collectors for their elegant shape

Headrests like this one are prominent across diverse cultures and eras. From the dark vaults of Ancient Egyptian tombs to the banks of the Sepik River, headrests were utilized to support sleepers lying on their sides and preserve intricate hairstyles during the night. Many people from ancient civilizations slept on mats, therefore headrests were emblematic status symbols and were generally reserved for prominent figures in such cultures. Though they might look uncomfortable in comparison with our Western accommodations, their structure actually supports proper spine alignment.

Provenance: The Nicolai Michoutouckine Collection (1929-2010) Nicolai was an artist of international repute, Russian-born, and French he lived in Vanuatu for most of his life. A keen collector and promoter of Pacific arts for many decades, his collection was exhibited in a traveling exhibition that went around the world. He and his lifetime partner Aloi were also my good friends

Exhibited:  Art of the Pacific: The Nicolai Michoutouckine Collection:  in Russia, Sweden Japan Australia

The Todd Barlin Collection of Polynesian Oceanic Art

I first went to Papua New Guinea in 1985 for an adventure & what I found was that I really enjoyed being with the people of New Guinea, over the next 38 years I spent extensive time spent collecting and documenting traditional art & ceremonies in remote areas of Papua New Guinea & West Papua, The Solomon Islands & Vanuatu & the other Pacific Islands countries. During these travels, I made major collections of New Guinea & Oceanic Art for major Museums and Public Art Galleries

I was honoured by being in the prestigious Louvre Museum Magazine for the collections I made for The Museum of African & Oceanic Art Paris in 1996 (now the Musee Quai Branly) for the exhibition “Asmat et Mimika d’ Irian Jaya April 1996 At THE MUSEE NATIONAL des ARTS D’AFRIQUE et d’ OCEANIE, Paris

See all of the links & photos in my new EXHIBITIONS GALLERY and there is the link to the article in the prestigious Louvre Magazine 1996

I have artwork for Museums & Art Galleries but also for collectors at every stage of their collecting. I want to encourage people to explore the fine art of New Guinea & West Papua and the Pacific Islands and to be able to see and touch the artworks in a relaxed and friendly manner in my Sydney Gallery.  I would like to invite you to visit my gallery and see the artworks in person and also look at my website www.oceanicartsaustralia.com  where there are many Galleries & Sub Galleries to explore.

My Gallery of nearly 40 years is the last physical gallery in Sydney that specialises in New Guinea & Oceanic Art. Sydney is just a couple hours’ flight to New Guinea & the Pacific Islands where all of these amazing artworks came from, Australia’s closest neighbours.

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If you have a similar “object” for sale please contact me for the best price and honest advice by a Government approved valuer 

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