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

These objects are only a part of our collections, of which there are more than 350,000 objects. This information comes from our collections database. Some of this is incomplete and there may be errors. This part of the website is also still under construction, so there may be some fields repeated or incorrectly formatted information.

The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive. The database also includes information on objects that are considered secret or sacred by some communities.

If you have any further information about objects in our collections or can suggest corrections to our information, please contact us: enquiry@horniman.ac.uk