This enigmatic head and torso is one of a group of eleven stone figures discovered in 1894 on Necker Island, a barren outcrop of rock 300 miles northwest of the Hawai'ian islands. Necker was once inhabited by Polynesian settlers who built temple platforms and carved stone figures from the local basaltic rock, but the island was abandoned several centuries prior to European contact. Therefore, the precise identity and function of the Necker Island figures, which may date from about 1000 C.E., is unknown. Because they were found in association with temple platforms, it is likely that the figures are images of gods or deified ancestors that were used during religious ceremonies.
Captain Freeman and Benjamin H. Norton, collected Necker Island, 1894, S.S. Iwalani; Daniel Balou; (William Coleman Auction Galleries, New York, until 1940); [Willard B. Golovin, New York, until 1976]
Jones, Mark. The art of the medal. London, 1979, pp. 91–96.
Newton, Douglas, Julie Jones, and Kate Ezra. The Pacific Islands, Africa, and the Americas. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987, p. 94.
Kjellgren, Eric. Oceania: Art of the Pacific Islands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007, 192, 315-6.