Breastplate (Tema, Tambe, or Tepatu)

late 19th–early 20th century
Solomon Islands, Santa Cruz Islands, Temotu province
Santa Cruz Islands
Tridacna shell, turtle shell, trade cloth, fiber
Diam. 7 3/8 in. (18.7 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
  • Description

    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.

  • Provenance

    Possibly collected by P. de Folslan in 1928; [John J. Klejman, New York, until1958]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1958, on permanent loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1958–1978

  • See also