Lot 101
  • 101

Neckrest, Fiji

10,000 - 15,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • wood
  • Length: 23 1/4 in (59 cm)


Julius L. Brenchley (1816-1873), collected in situ during the voyage of HMS Curaçoa, 1865, in Fiji from July 26-29
Bonhams, London, June 23, 1992, lot 180
Lance and Roberta Entwistle, London, acquired at the above auction
American Private Collection, acquired from the above

Catalogue Note

The present neckrest, kali, was collected in situ by the English traveler and naturalist Julius Brenchley during the course of his voyage through the Pacific in 1865. Brenchley was an inveterate collector, and whilst in Fiji he "visited several vendors of curiosities who all set an exorbitant price on their articles"; amongst them was "an old sailor of the name of Russell [… a] cunning, bronze-faced old tar" who showed Brenchley two figures which appear to have been exceptionally rare matakau images (Brenchley, Jottings During the Cruise of H. M. S. Curaçoa Among the South Sea Islands, 1873, p. 146). Whilst Brenchley does not mention the acquisition of this neckrest, it is of a particularly rare form seldom found in collections. A similar example in the collection of the Fiji Museum, Suva (inv. no. FM 563/30) is illustrated in Clunie, Yalo i Viti, Suva, 1986, p. 42, cat. no. 65; it once belonged to chief Kininavuai Nacagilevu, one of the signatories of the 1874 deed of cession. Fifteen small, regularly spaced, dot motifs appear on one side of the present neckrest. We may relate them to the small glass trade beads which were set into certain prestigious neckrests and clubs; see Meyer, Oceanic Headrests/Appuie-nuque océaniens, Paris, 2004, pp. 67, 70, and 72 for three neckrests of different styles but with similar dot motifs.