Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Lidded Bowl (Kotue)

late 18th–early 19th century
Marquesas Islands
Marquesan (Enata) people
H. 7 5/8 x L. 13 1/2 in. (19.4 x 34.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Evelyn A. J. Hall, 1986
Accession Number:
1986.476.4a, b
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 353
The distinctive form of the lidded Marquesan bowls known as kotue
suggests the body and tail of a bird adorned with a fully modeled human
head. Only about a dozen of these remarkable vessels are known. Versatile
as well as elegant, bird-shaped bowls were first described by European
explorers in the eighteenth century, and a number of different functions are
assigned to them in the historical sources. Fitted with removable lids to
protect their contents, kotue were used to store a variety of items including
popoi, a paste made from pounded breadfruit that is a staple of the
Marquesan diet. They were also used to safeguard ornaments and other
valuables as well as 'eka (turmeric), a precious yellow-orange powder used
to adorn the skin.
Musée d'Histoire Naturelle et Ethnographie, La Rochelle, France; Evelyn A. J. Hall, New York, until 1986

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, 74, 107-8.

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, 184, 305-6.

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