Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Engraved Bamboo Container (Kare U Ta)

Date:
mid to late 19th century
Geography:
New Caledonia
Culture:
Kanak people
Medium:
Bamboo
Dimensions:
H. 45 1/2 in. (115.6 cm)
Classification:
Wood-Implements
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Campbell, 1969
Accession Number:
1978.412.1555
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 354
The engraved bamboo containers (kare u ta) of New Caledonia appear to have
served primarily to hold blends of magical plants, whose powers protected the
bearer from harm. They also may have been carried, like batons, as symbols
of authority. In one oral tradition, they reportedly were used by young men
when courting, their refined designs adding distinction to the suitor.
The containers portray both indigenous and colonial subjects. Some
scenes likely depict episodes from oral tradition, serving as illustrations and
memory aids to speakers in storytelling. However, many, such as this one,
also portray the colonial activities of the French, who annexed New
Caledonia in 1853; these include depictions of military encampments.
City of Portland Free City Museum, Portland, Ore.; Oregon Museum of Science & Industry, Portland, Ore., until ca. 1964; Robert W. Campbell, Oregon, ca. 1964–1969; The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1969–1978

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, 114, 194-5.

Kjellgren, Eric. How to Read Oceanic Art. How to Read 3. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014.



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