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How to Read Oceanic Art

Kjellgren, Eric
2014
176 pages
185 illustrations
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From the dense rain forests of New Guinea to the spice-rich islands of Indonesia, the tropical archipelagos of Polynesia and Micronesia, and the deserts of Australia, Oceania encompasses hundreds of distinct artistic traditions with an extensive variety of objects and mediums. Formidable, fascinating and even fearsome, they range in size from intricate jewelry to colossal sculptures and musical instruments.

In addition to serving numerous practical and decorative purposes, many Oceanic objects were invested with religious or social symbolic significance and often have been used in enthralling ceremonies. The imagery of these remarkable works—ranging from ancestors, gods, and spirits to animals and inter-species composites—has had a direct impact on modern artists, including Paul Gauguin and the Surrealists.

An invaluable resource for art-historical study, this third volume in the How to Read series is an important gateway to wider appreciation of Oceanic heritage and visual culture.

Bird Figure, Stone, Mount Hagen region
Mount Hagen region
ca. 1500 BCE– ?1600 CE
Ancestor Figure, Wood, paint, fiber, ferrous metal, Sawos people
Sawos people
19th century or earlier
Finial (Yaba) for a Ceremonial House, Wood, paint, Kwoma
Kwoma
early to mid-20th century
Finial (Yaba) for a Ceremonial House, Wood, paint, Kwoma
Kwoma
early to mid-20th century
Painting from a Ceremonial House Ceiling, Numei, Amachi Kalaba, Sago palm spathe, paint, Kwoma,  Amachi-Kalaba clan
1970
Painting from a Ceremonial House Ceiling, Masau, Abgwala Kalaba, Sago palm spathe, paint, Kwoma, Abgwala Kalaba clan
1973
Painting from a Ceremonial House Ceiling, Numei, Amachi Kalaba, Sago palm spathe, paint, Kwoma, Amachi-Kalaba clan
1973
Painting from a Ceremonial House Ceiling, Manggabako, Kuimbi Wanyi, Sago palm spathe, paint, Kwoma, Kuimbi Wanyi clan
1973
Ceremonial Board (Malu), Wood, Sawos people
Sawos people
19th century
Male Figure, Wood, Inyai-Ewa people
Inyai-Ewa people
16th–19th century
Figure (Gra or Garra), Wood, paint, Bahinemo people
Bahinemo people
late 19th–early 20th century
Hair Ornament (Manyan), Wood, paint, shell, fiber, Biwat people
Biwat people
late 19th–early 20th century
Figure (Yipwon), Wood, paint, Alamblak or Yimam people
Alamblak or Yimam people
19th century
Hunting Charm, Wood, paint, Yimam people (?)
Yimam people (?)
late 19th–early 20th century
House-post Figure, Wood, paint, fiber, Kambot people
Kambot people
19th century
Horn, Wood, Wogumas
Wogumas
late 19th–early 20th century
Canoe Prow, Wood, cowrie shells, Iatmul people
Iatmul people
19th–early 20th century
Figure (Nggwalndu), Wood, paint, Abelam people
Abelam people
19th–early 20th century
Dagger, Cassowary bone, pigment, Kwanga people
Kwanga people
late 19th–early 20th century
Lintel from a Ceremonial House, Wood, paint, Abelam people
Abelam people
early to mid-20th century
Showing 20 of 118

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Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.), and Eric Kjellgren, eds. 2014. How to Read Oceanic Art. Third Volume in the How to Read Series. New York : New Haven: Metropolitan Museum of Art ; Distributed by Yale University Press.