This virtuosic carving represents a creator god. It is one of the finest pieces of Polynesian sculpture in the West.

Rurutu figure known as A’a

Figure of the war god Ku-ka’ili-moku
Islanders grew fruit trees and used the wood to carve figures. This one depicts Ku, the “land snatcher.”

Polynesia, an introduction

Maori meeting house
The god of war rules the world outside these sacred spaces, but inside, peace and calm prevail.

Maori meeting house

Oceania feather cape
Hawaiian nobility donned these “red garments” in ceremonies and battle and later gave them to Europeans as gifts.

Feather cape

This “lost or stolen friend” left Easter Island in 1869. Carved of dense volcanic rock, it towers over the viewer.

Easter Island Moai

Masi (tapa cloth), likely used as a room divider, Fiji, date unknown, 300 x 428 cm (Te Papa, New Zealand)
In Polynesia, bark-cloth textiles were once considered women’s wealth. They still figure in ritual exchanges.

Hiapo (tapa)