14
14

PROPERTY FROM AN AMERICAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Kanak Janiform Roof Finial, New Caledonia
Estimate
15,00025,000
LOT SOLD. 30,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
14

PROPERTY FROM AN AMERICAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Kanak Janiform Roof Finial, New Caledonia
Estimate
15,00025,000
LOT SOLD. 30,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

|
New York

Kanak Janiform Roof Finial, New Caledonia

Provenance

Private Collection, New York
Sotheby's, New York, November 11, 2004, lot 23, consigned by the above
American Private Collection, acquired at the above auction

Catalogue Note

Kanak societies were ruled by hereditary chiefs who embodied both secular, political power and the sacred power of the ancestors. The house of the chief was both the physical and metaphorical center of the village, and its towering conical roof would have been crowned with a roof finial which symbolically alludes to the role of the chief.

According to Boulay, roof finials developed from trespass or taboo markers. These markers were ‘signs of the power which comes from the ancestors’ (Kasarhérou & Boulay, Kanak. L’art est une parole, 2013, p. 106), and were used to demarcate cultural boundaries. Boulay convincingly illustrates how the markers, composed of bundles of straw tied to poles, gradually evolved into the characteristic geometric and anthropomorphic forms of the roof finials (ibid., pp. 108-109, 112-113). Like the trespass markers, roof finials ‘indicated that one was entering a highly culturally charged area’ (ibid.). Since the chief’s house was to be approached only from the front, roof finials generally have only one ancestor face. Here however the addorsed faces of two ancestor spirits look out over the community.

Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

|
New York