Headdress (Uhikana)

Marquesan (Enata) people

Not on view

The headdresses known as uhikana were among the most important forms of ceremonial regalia for chiefs in the southern Marquesas Islands. Worn on the forehead, uhikana consist of a fiber headband adorned with a central disk of pearl shell overlain with an openwork turtle-shell plaque. The designs on the present plaque are of the type known as the tiki star, in which the faces of six tiki (human images) radiate from a central disk. The original meaning of this motif is uncertain. However, some contemporary Marquesans state that the six faces symbolize the six inhabited islands of the Marquesan archipelago. The tiki star is also one of several Marquesan designs that appear in the art of the archipelago’s most famous expatriate resident, the French Post-impressionist painter Paul Gauguin.

Headdress (Uhikana), Pearl shell, turtle shell, fiber, Marquesan (Enata) people

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