Pacific Encounters : Art & Divinity in Polynesia 1760-1860
Pacific Encounters will bring together for the first time many stunning Polynesian objects gathered during the early period of contact with European voyagers, missionaries and settlers. The book will present, in eight thematic sections, around 270 items with short captions, including sculptures in wood and stone; feather and basketry images; feather cloaks; wood bowls; decorated bark cloths; and ornaments and valuables of ivory, shell, bone and nephrite. The objects will be drawn from the major regions of Polynesia: the Society Islands (Tahiti), Austral Islands, Cook Islands, Marquesas Islands, Hawaii, Easter Island, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa and New Zealand. Two introductory essays will place the objects in their cultural and historical contexts. The first will focus on the role, meaning and interpretation of Polynesian art and material culture; the second on the history of the collection of this material by explorers (Cook et al.), missionaries and traders, and the routes by which it eventually came to museums. The essays will be illustrated with pictorial material taken from voyaging and missionary sources (paintings, engravings from Cook's Voyages and missionary publications). This groundbreaking book will convey the wonder and excitement not only of the objects themselves, but of the cultures and cultural interactions which gave rise to them. Many were collected during the voyages of Cook, Vancouver and other explorers, and by early Christian missionaries - in effect by European 'chiefs' and 'priests'. Such pieces have remarkable stories to tell.