Showing posts with label polynesian art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label polynesian art. Show all posts

Saturday, April 25, 2009


I love the art of the South Pacific Islands, which is also called "oceanic art."  There are striking similarities in the styles of islands spread thousands of miles apart, and it's hard to resist the idea that all these cultures had some common country of origin. I'd guess a combination of ancient India and aboriginal Australia, but what do I know?

This art is memorable because of it's complete "otherness." Europeans just don't think this way. The make-up and masks seem to threaten with weird, supernatural horror. 

But the difference is greater than that.  If you can judge by the sculpture, island people seem to have had more of a sense of humor than Europeans. A lot of them were of the opinion that their their neighbors were outrageously funny-looking, if not downright ugly, and they took every opportunity to lambast them with carved caricatures that they set up outside their huts. No wonder they were at war all the time. 

Gee, maybe some of them (above) were kind deficient. 

I've seen lumpy heads like this one (above) plenty of times in the National Geographic. I guess that's what happens when you live around trillions of bugs.

There's a theory that primitive people who go around naked don't think of themselves as naked. As long as they have that little string around their waists they feel completely clothed. Woe to the uncouth villager who forgets to put his string on in the morning.

Some sculptures (above) appear to have been caricatures, pure and simple.

Others (above) seem to have had deep, mystical significance. 

Here (above) Balinese style seems to merge with an island sensibility. And look at the symmetry. It's odd how primitive man is often so wedded to symmetry

Nice mask (above)! A flat out caricature!

I didn't know that Sammy Davis Jr. (above) used to live in the tropics.

These masks from the 19th Century all look contemporary. I just can't believe they're as old as claimed.