Fijian Chief’s Split Whale Tooth Ivory Necklace ‘Wāseisei’

Fijian Chief’s Split Whale Tooth Ivory Necklace ‘Wāseisei’

1800 to 1900 Fiji

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A Western Polynesia Fijian Chief’s Split Whale Tooth Ivory Necklace ‘Wāseisei’ Composed of 25 Carefully Shaped Points Bound with Fine Plaited Coconut Fibre Sinnet Cord
Early 19th Century

Size: 15.5cm long – 6 ins long (max) / 9.5cm long – 3¾ ins long (min)
NOTE:
Now sold, another example is now in stock, please contact for details
Provenance: Ex European Private collection
See: Finch & Co catalogue no. 20, item no. 20, for another Fijian whale tooth necklace
NOTE:
Now sold, another example is now in stock, please contact for details
These fantastical necklaces carved from sperm whale teeth were a refinement of the 1810-50 period. The introduction of metal tools together with a regular supply of sperm whale teeth from the visiting European whaling ships meant that these ‘Wāseisei’ necklaces soon replaced the earlier type ‘Sisi’ which was composed of whole pilot whale teeth. Although the idea for them originated in Fiji they were made by specialised Tongan and Samoan craftsmen ‘Tunfunga Fono Lei’. Made as chiefly regalia and important strategic gifts, they were much prized throughout the Islands for their beauty.
Medium
Whale Tooth, Sinnet Cord
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