In the Marquesas Islands, ivory ear ornaments (hakakai) made from whale teeth were worn by both men and women. Larger hakakai such as the pair seen here were worn by men. The ornaments consist of a large disk worn in front of the ear and a curved spur that, inserted through a large hole in the earlobe, projected behind the ear. The spurs were frequently adorned, as here, with small tiki (human images). It is probable that larger hakakai, such as the ones seen here, developed in the early 1800’s when western vessels brought great quantities of whale teeth to the islands as trade items.
[Allan Frumkin Gallery, New York, until 1962]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1962, on permanent loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1962–1978
Wardwell, Allen. The Sculpture of Polynesia. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1967, no. 48, p. 49.
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. 6.
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, no. 40, pp. 74–75.