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Dance Ornament

Arts of the Pacific Islands

MEDIUM Wood, Turbo petholatus opercula, pigment
DATES 19th century
DIMENSIONS 7 1/2 x 19 x 2 1/2 in. (19.1 x 48.3 x 6.4 cm)
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Frank Sherman Benson Fund and the Henry L. Batterman Fund
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Bird-headed four limbed figure seated upright, supporting its long beak in its hands. Its two eyes are made from inset shells. The figure has spikes protruding from its back and the rear of its head, and appears to be resting its feet on a fish-like creature with a tail. The object is painted red, black, and white. Overall condition is fair. There are numerous repaired horizontal and vertical breaks that include: a break between the lowest fish body and the rear perforated form; two breaks in the center white support; breaks below both knees of the seated bird; break between the proper left leg and body; break in the curved red element behind the seated bird; two parallel breaks in the tricolor curved element behind the bird; and break in the front of the red and black curved element connecting beak and fish tail. There is a crack in the black border behind the bird. There is another crack below the proper right knee. A section of the black border around the bird crown is missing, and a tip of the top crown element is lost. These two missing parts have been reconstructed out of balsa wood, attached, and painted. From catalogue card: Carved and painted wooden ornament representing a grotesque bird-like animal with long bill supported by two hands. There is a spiny crest enclosed in a protecting rim over the head and body of this animal which also has eyes made by inserted shells. A cresent piece runs from the bill to the beak and attaches itself to a tail object which seems to represent an adze blade. Another section runs from top of animal's head to blade. Paint is red, black and white. There is a ropelike decoration which probably served to attach it to the arm or to some other part of the body. Condition: good.
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