New Acquisitions

Ivi poo Ornament

Marquesas Islands
Polynesia

Carved bone
19th century
Height: 3 ½ in. (3.6 cm)

Ex collection Harry Geoffrey Beasley (1881–1939)
Ex private collection, Paris

Price: on request

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In Polynesian myths, tiki is often considered the primordial ancestor of men. Omnipresent in the art of the Marquesas Islands, anthropomorphic representations of tiki are used particularly to ornament ivi poo. These hollow cylinders were carved from the bones of an enemy or an ancestor, thus retaining the mana, or vital sacred power of the deceased. Ivi poo served as body ornaments and protective charms, and were transmitted from generation to generation. For Marquesans, the head constituted the most sacred part of the human body. The rare presence of hair on this ornament thus constitutes an additional indication of value and prestige.