Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Fan Handle (Ke'e)

Marquesas Islands
Marquesan (Enata) people
H. 1 3/4 x W. 14 in. (4.5 x 35.6 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 353
Fans in the Marquesas were carried by prominent individuals of both sexes
as marks of social status. Displayed at feasts and other events, their visual
impact was enhanced by the elegant manner in which they were carried,
especially by women. Made from narrow strips of plant fiber, the blades were
woven around dagger-like wood handles (ke'e), sometimes sheathed in a
sleeve of bone. The earliest fan handles were apparently unadorned, but by
the early 1800s, artists began to decorate them with numerous small tiki
(human images). Typically arranged in pairs, shown back-to-back and stacked
one atop the other, these tiki, like human images elsewhere in Marquesan
art, likely portray deified ancestors.
Harry G. Beasley, Chiselhurst, UK; [John J. Klejman, New York, until 1961]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1961, on permanent loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1961–1978

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Art of Oceania, Africa, and the Americas from the Museum of Primitive Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1969, no. 5.

Kjellgren, Eric, and Carol S. Ivory. Adorning the World: Art of the Marquesas Islands. New York, New Haven and London: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005, 52, 81-4.

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