Ke’e Tahi’i Fan Handle
Height: 32 cm – 12 ½ in.
Ex collection Lady Brassey, presumably collected during a voyage aboard the “Sunbeam” (1876-1883)
Ex collection Hastings Museum, UK
Ex collection James T. Hooper, Arundel, n°428
Ex collection Wayne Heathcote, London
Ex Christie’s London, 3-4 July 1990, lot 114
Ex private collection, New York
Ex private collection, UK
« Art and Artefacts of the Pacific, Africa and the Americas, The James Hooper Collection »,
Steven Phelps, Hutchinson Publications, London, 1976, p. 102
Veritable insignia of the right to command, fans were above all a sign of power and distinction. Only highly placed dignitaries, chiefs and princesses had the right to possess these objects of prestige, whose utilitarian function was to “prolong the effects of a beneficial breath of air” as explained by Marie Noëlle Ottino-Garanger in “Kannibals et Vahinés” (Chartres, 2002).
Fans were transmitted from generation to generation and were included in a family’s inalienable treasures. In the Marquesas Islands, the art of personal adornment reached the height of refinement and evocative force.
In Polynesian myths, tiki is often considered the primordial ancestor of men. Anthropomorphic representations of tiki are omnipresent in the art of the Marquesas Islands, and notably on fan handles.
This fan handle with a remarkable pedigree is composed of two sets of tiki (standing back to back, surmounting upside-down figures with long faces.