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Arts of the South Pacific

The collection of art from the islands of the South Pacific Ocean—including New Zealand and Australia—demonstrates how the presence of the sea has shaped these peoples and their art.

Lou Island, Admiralty Islands, Papua New Guinea
Ceremonial Feast Bowl
Late 19th century
Wood, plant fiber

25 3/4 x 52 7/8 inches 

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of D. and J. de Menil

Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, & the Americas

Arts of the South Pacific

The Matankol of Lou Island made these large bowls used to serve food for important ceremonies. The bowls were carved from a single piece of wood and were widely traded with other nearby islands. 

Each island had a specialized art form that was exchanged for the products of others. The Lou Island bowls feature delicate and decorative spiral handles that probably represent clan totems.