Le chasse-mouches de la collection Frum conserve le fragment d’une étiquette bleue et blanche de la London Missionary Society. Il fut certainement collecté par Georges Bennet (1774-1841) et Daniel Tverman (1773-1828) qui séjournèrent dans les îles Australes dans les années 1820. Bennet fit des donations à de nombreuses institutions anglaises, dont le Saffran Walden Museum et la Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, auprès de laquelle le collectionneur Kenneth Webster acquit cette œuvre en avril 1952. Voir King (Food for the Flames, p.104, fig. 112) pour quatre pièces comparables, données par Georges Bennet au Sheffield Museum, aujourd’hui dans les collections du Museum of Anthropology and Archeology de l’université de Cambridge (inv. n° Z5026A-D).
L’une des têtes est restaurée.
Long attributed to the Society Islands, more particularly Tahiti, the work of Roger Rose has shown that the small corpus of fly whisks, tahiri ra'a, were almost certainly made on Rurutu or Tupua'i in the Austral Islands. The close links between the Austral and Society Islands means that many Australs fly-whisks and other ritual objects were collected in the Society Islands, although it is uncertain whether they were simply exported or whether Austral craftsmen settled in the Society Islands and worked there.
Hooper states that the attribution to Tupua'i is strengthened by the collection history of a fly-whisk in the Peabody Museum, Yale University (no. 7154.209919), which was obtained on Tupua'i in June 1826 by Lieutenant Hiram Paulding of the United States Schooner Dolphin (Hooper, Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection, Volume II: Pacific, African and Native North American Art, 1997, p. 22).
These fly-whisks are remarkable for both the complexity of their composition and their sculptural quality. Whilst it is likely that fly-whisks served as insignia of high rank, the precise significance of their iconography remains obscure. The superb addorsed figure motif is encountered elsewhere in Polynesia, although its meaning has never been fully ascertained. The purpose of the series of disks carved below the figure is also uncertain, although they may represent different generations of ancestors and could have been used as a mnemonic during the recitation of genealogies. The larger disk underneath is carved in relief with motifs which may represent abstract heads or crouching figures.
The fly-whisk from the Frum collection bears part of a blue and white London Missionary Society label. It was almost certainly collected by George Bennet (1774-1841) or Daniel Tyerman (1773–1828), who were in the Austral Islands in the 1820s. Bennet donated objects to a number of English institutions, including the Saffron Walden Museum and the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, from whom the collector Kenneth Webster obtained this fly-whisk in April 1952. See King (Food for the Flames, 2011, p. 104, fig. 112), for four comparable fly-whisks, originally donated by George Bennet to the Sheffield Museum, now in the collection of the Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Cambridge (nos. Z5026A-D).
One of the heads restored
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