"Canoe Prow From Vanuatu "Vao Island, Vanuatu
A wooden sculpture that adorned a canoe prow of outrigger canoe. The coastal fishing boats called Naho on the islet of Vao were 7 meters long and could hold 4 people. This detachable bow was fixed at the front of the canoes with ligatures. It represents a stylized frigate bird with slender look surmounted by a shark. Composed of acute forms with nested volumes, the body of the bird appears as stretched, directed towards the horizon, seeming to guide the fishermen. The presence of the shark on the top probably reflects a totemic figure desired by the former owner. In Vanuatu, only high-ranking people could own one. The owner of a pirogue pays (in pigs) a sculptor to make a bow corresponding to his rank.
Carved in a single trunk, they were considered important objects in the social organization of the clan. Damaging the bow of a canoe of others could cause death.
Semi-hard wood with brown natural patina.
Light accidents - splinters.
Vao Island, Northeast Malékula, Vanuatu, Melanesia
Date: Late 19th / early 20th
Dimensions without stand: 48.5 x 30.5 x 17 cm