Tiki of the Marquesas Islands

29 October 2020

This stone statuette embodies Tiki, the first human being or the god who created the Marquesas Islands for some Marquesans, honoured by the first carved figure. The statuette has a hole in the back of the head. It might have been attached to a string and dropped into the sea to attract passing shoals of fish into the waiting nets.

In the Marquesas Islands, the human body with large eyes is the main artistic motif carved in the round, or on clubs, jewels, ear ornaments or fans sporting their owner’s social status or personal prestige.

From C. Ivory, “The Marquesas Islands” in Arts of the South Seas, Island Southeast Asia, Melanesia, Polynesia, Micronesia, The Collections of the Musée Barbier-Mueller, Munich, London, New York, Prestel Verlag, 1999, pp. 332-341.

Tiki. Marquesas Islands. 1st half of the 19th century. Stone. H. 16 cm. Former Josef Mueller collection, acquired before 1942. Inv. 5810-1. Musée Barbier-Mueller, photo Studio Ferrazzini Bouchet.