This carving depicts a warrior from ancient times. The mask is not actually worn, but carved to embody the strength and nobility of the warrior.
To appear more fierce, the warriors wore their hair thick and puffed high, often with a band of cowry shell on their foreheads. They stretched their earlobes to enlarge their faces. They painted their faces with crushed lime before battle.
This mask has been carved from Solomon Island kerosene wood (cordia subcordata), and show the typical jutting chin and mouth, and the looped earlobes. The headdress depicts a finely carved turtle framed by two dolphins, on a background of coral. The mother of pearl inlay represents the war paint.
In the western Solomon Islands, canoes were essential to transportation, fishing, and warfare. They were lavishly adorned. The centerpiece of the prow was a distinctive figurehead, known variously as a nguzu nguzu, musu musu, or toto isu. Attached at the waterline so that it dipped in the sea as the canoe rode the waves, the figurehead reportedly served as a supernatural protector ensuring safe passage and a successful expedition.
This carving shows the nguzu nguzu holding a head, indicating that this was a war canoe, and the warriors are coming to hunt heads. The face is marked with traditional 'warpaint' and the ears show a circular ornament. The warpaint is defined by intricate mother of pearl inlay. The carving is made from Solomon Island kerosene wood (cordia subcordata).
For the mother of pearl inlay, the artist cuts a piece of shell to fit the space, then cuts it into tiny pieces, files each one to create the pattern, and then puts each individual piece in place using custom putty.
Marovo Lagoon, Western Province, Solomon Islands.
Personally collected Compadre Voyage
9"H X 5"W x 6"D
Marovo Lagoon, Solomon Islands
Personally collected Firebird Voyage
30”H x 10”W x 6.5”D.
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