Art/ Collection/ Art Object

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:
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.
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

Beasley, Harry G. "The Tamar of Santa Cruz." Ethnologia Cranmorensis vol. 4 (1939).

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. 67.

Waite, Deborah. Art of the Solomon Islands: From the Collection of the Barbier-Müller. Geneva: Musée Barbier-Mueller, 1983.

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, 104, 175-6.

Related Objects

Money Coil (Tevau)

Date: late 19th–early 20th century Medium: Feathers, fiber, bark, seeds, shell, glass beads, leaves Accession: 2010.326 On view in:Gallery 354

Canoe Figurehead (Nguzu Nguzu, Musu Musu, or Toto Isu)

Date: late 19th–early 20th century Medium: Wood, paint, shell Accession: 1976.351 On view in:Gallery 354

Shield (Grere'o [?])

Date: early to mid-19th century Medium: Fiber, parinarium-nut paste, chambered-nautilus shell, pigment Accession: 1978.412.730 On view in:Gallery 354

Pendant or Head Ornament (Kapkap)

Date: late 19th–early 20th century Medium: Tridacna shell, turtle shell, fiber, glass bead Accession: 1999.47.62 On view in:Gallery 354

Pendant (Ulute or Papafita)

Date: 19th–early 20th century Medium: Tridacna shell, fiber, pigment Accession: 1999.47.21 On view in:Gallery 354