Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Ceremonial Staff (Wari Hau)

19th–early 20th century
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Wood, chambered-nautilus shell, fiber, paint
L. 15 1/4 x W. 1 3/8 in. (38.7 x 3.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of John B. Elliott, 1997
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 354
The Solomon Islands in the southwest Pacific form a double chain, roughly
850 miles long, between New Britain and Vanuatu. The archipelago is
remarkable for the richness of its decorative arts, which serve to adorn the
human body and embellish ceremonial and utilitarian objects. Solomon
Islanders are particularly remarkable for their sophisticated traditions of
shell inlay, in which delicately carved sections of mother-of-pearl or white
shell are inset into the surfaces of wood objects. Artists produce ornate
jewelry and personal ornaments fashioned from shell, porpoise teeth,
turtle shell, and other materials. They also create, or created, diverse forms
of valuables and ceremonial objects from the hard marble-like shell of the
giant clam. Although Western culture has had a considerable impact on the
archipelago, many of these art forms continue to flourish today.
John B. Elliott, Princeton, NJ, until (d.) 1997; John B. Elliott Estate, until 1999

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