19th century or early 20th century
Length: 1 ¾ in. (4.6 cm)
Sotheby’s, New York, May 19, 2000, lot 174
Ex collection Abe Rosman & Paula Rubel, New York
Putaiana were female ear ornaments. They were passed on from generation to generation. They usually featured one or more tiki figures. Sometimes as may be the case here, the ornaments depict scenes associated with mythological tales.
These finely carved adornments were displayed on the occasion of complex ceremonies. According to Claude Stéfani, in "L'art ancestral des Iles Marquises", the ephemeral arrangement of ornaments was as important as their intrinsic beauty.