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.