ÉVENTAIL, ÎLES MARQUISES, POLYNÉSIE FRANÇAISE
- wood and fiber
Transmis par descendance
Le manche, « représentant généralement quatre figures de leurs dieux, deux en haut et deux au-dessous, accroupies dos à dos » (Journal du Capitaine Porter, 1815, cité par Panoff, Trésors des Îles Marquises, 1995, p. 118), affiche ici une patine d’usage exceptionnelle qui a adouci les reliefs de manière singulière, témoignant de son ancienneté et de son usage prolongé. Cette ancienneté est confirmée par la sobriété du décor, ainsi que par les dos soudés des tikis qui se retrouvent sur l’exemplaire en dent de cachalot acquis in situ entre 1844 et 1847 par Georges Louis Vinter, soldat du 1er régiment d’infanterie à Nuku Hiva.
Tahi’i fans from the Marquesas Islands, with their delicately carved handle (ke’e), are among the most beautiful finery in the Polynesian world. Only high-ranking men and women such as chiefs, princesses and high priests, were allowed to possess them: “A sign of peace, a badge of command among warriors, an emblem for chiefs and experts, an ornament for ceremonies and feasts, an object to be gifted or exchanged, the fan retained all its prestige in the mid-19th century" (Ivory, Matahoata. Arts et société aux îles Marquises, 2016, p. 118). Passed down from generation to generation within the same family, they were the work of two castes of specialised artists: the tuhuka aaka tahii, for the infinitely intricate weaving, and the tuhuka ketu kee tahii, for the carving of the handle which was the sacred part of the piece, carved in sperm whale ivory, human bone or hardwood, as is the case here.
The handle “generally represents four of their gods figures - two on top and two below, squatting back to back” (Diary of Captain Porter, 1815, cited by Panoff, Trésors des Îles Marquises, 1995, p. 118), and in this piece the wood is covered in an exceptional patina which has softened the reliefs in a very particular way, attesting to its antiquity and prolonged use. This antiquity is further corroborated by the sobriety of the decor, as well as by the welded backs of the tikis also to be found on the example made from sperm whale teeth and acquired in situ between 1844 and 1847 by Georges Louis Vinter, a soldier of the 1st infantry regiment in Nuku Hiva.