Canoe prow from the Vanuatu

12 June 2020

Only men above the rank of “maki” were allowed to decorate their dugout canoe with such a figurehead reminiscent of a frigate, a seabird with a wide-open beak, split to the base.

Against it is a figure with a diamond-shaped face, typical of this region of the archipelago. The large canoes indispensable to long-distance commercial maritime expeditions were equipped with an additional figure at the stern.

Canoe prow Naho
Canoe prow “naho”. Vao Island, Vanuatu. 20th century. Carved Wood. Inv. 4611
Photo: Studio Ferrazzini-Bouchet. Musée Barbier-Mueller