Oceania

Melanesia

This region includes the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and the island of New Guinea, among many others.

c. 1500 B.C.E. - present

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The Life of Malagan
The Life of Malagan

These intricate wooden carvings have confused anthropologists and confounded art historians for over a century.

Melanesia, an introduction
Melanesia, an introduction

The small-scale societies of these islands became famous in the West for their ceremonial wooden carvings.

Malagan at the British Museum
Malagan at the British Museum

Collected from Papua New Guinea in the 1880s, this figure would otherwise have been destroyed after its ritual use.

Bis Poles at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Bis Poles at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Master carvers produced statues like these when village leaders needed to bring their community back into balance.

<em>Ambum Stone</em>
Ambum Stone

This intriguing artifact has a 3,500-year history. The latest chapter? A political debate over cultural heritage.

Presentation of Fijian Mats and Tapa Cloths to Queen Elizabeth II
Presentation of Fijian Mats and Tapa Cloths to Queen Elizabeth II

This photograph commemorates a historic royal visit and captures the practice of Fijian gift exchange.

Mask (Buk), Torres Strait, Mabuiag Island
Mask (Buk), Torres Strait, Mabuiag Island

Though we lack an understanding of its use or cultural context, this turtle-shell mask was certainly precious.

Selected Contributors | Melanesia