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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Bowl (Apia nie)

late 19th–early 20th century
Papua New Guinea, Wuvulu
H. 1 3/4 x W. 7 1/4 x D. 12 5/8 in. (4.5 x 18.4 x 32.1 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
Not on view
The unique hourglass-shaped bowls, or apia nie, created on the islands of Wuvulu and Aua embody the spare, minimalist aesthetic of Micronesian art. Still made today, apia nie are used specifically to collect coconut milk, extracted by squeezing balls of grated coconut meat over the bowl. The wide shallow ends of the bowls curve gently downward toward the deeper center, in which the freshly squeezed liquid collects. Despite their apparent delicacy, apia nie are everyday vessels in widespread use. Many older examples develop a distinctive glossy patina through years of contact with the oil in the coconut milk. In most cases, the form of the vessel, as here, serves as its only adornment, but the interiors of some examples are painted with linear
geometric designs.
[Julius Carlebach Gallery, New York, until 1956]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1956, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1956–1978

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. 32.

The American Federation of Arts. Primitive Art Masterworks: an exhibition jointly organized by the Museum of Primitive Art and the American Federation of Arts, New York. New York: The American Federation of Arts, 1974, 113.

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, 171, 283.

Kjellgren, Eric. How to Read Oceanic Art. How to Read 3. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014, pp. 126–41.

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