canoe prow

Carved wooden canoe prow. The lower section includes a representation of a dog. Along the front edge are a length of coiled rope and a row of seashells. The spirals represent the ocean's waves. 'Prow ornaments serve as symbols of prosperity. They were also used as a standard for bearing home the head of a vanquished enemy. Seafarers on the islands of Aru, Kei and Tanimbar ascribe human qualities to their boats, with male and female elements that combine in the boat building process. In human beings, the 'life force' radiates from body and soul. For a boat, body and soul are associated with the hull and the prow ornament, rigging and sail.' ('Treasures of the National Museum' Periplus 1998).

Collection Information

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