Housepost, late 19th–early 20th century
Auguena village, Santa Ana Island, Solomon Islands
Wood; H. 79 1/2 in. (201.9 cm)
Gift of Dr. Martin and Suzanne Schulman, 1986 (1986.486)
The peoples of the islands of Santa Ana, San Cristobal, Ulawa, and Uki, in the eastern Solomon Islands, construct elaborate feast houses and canoe houses supported by carved wood posts. The imagery of the posts frequently, as here, incorporates anthropomorphic figures depicting supernatural beings or individuals associated with specific historical events. The male figure on this post is shown in a seated position, with a shark (not visible in the photograph) carved in relief on his back. In many Solomon Island cultures, sharks were intimately associated with the spirit world. A pair of curving motifs, possibly representing stylized sea birds, appear above the forehead. The larger crescents above do not represent a headdress, but, instead, echo the form of the rounded notch at the top, which once held one of the horizontal beams that helped to support the building.