Fine Tongan Vava’U Island Carved Hardwood Headrest ‘Kali Laloni’
Fine Tongan Vava’U Island Carved Hardwood Headrest ‘Kali Laloni’
Fine Tongan Vava’U Island Carved Hardwood Headrest ‘Kali Laloni’
Fine Tongan Vava’U Island Carved Hardwood Headrest ‘Kali Laloni’

Fine Tongan Vava’U Island Carved Hardwood Headrest ‘Kali Laloni’

1800 to 1900 Tonga

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A Fine Tongan Vava’U Island Carved Hardwood Headrest ‘Kali Laloni’ of Classic Form
19th Century

Size: 14cm high, 44cm wide - 5½ ins high, 17¼ ins wide
An old paper label to the reverse inscribed ‘Headpillow Vavau Tonga H.M.S. Pylades 1902’
On the 11th October 1902, it was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald that the HMS Pylades had returned from a four month cruise of duty in the South Seas. The ship had visited Suva, Tongatabu, Kandava and lastly the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. Whilst anchored in Tavuki Bay of Kandava Island for two days:.. ‘the natives arranged what is known as a Meke for the entertainment of the officers and men of the vessel. The celebration created a good deal of interest on board and was much appreciated. Prior to the commencement of the entertainment the gathering of natives formed a ring on the grass and manufactured a quantity of native drink known as Kava. The administrator of the Fijian Islands and the captain and officers of HMS Pylades partook of the refreshment provided for them and in doing so pleased the natives.
The next item in the programme was a procession of women who brought offerings of fruit and coconuts which were laid at the feet of the visitors. Then came a procession of men who brought offerings and presents of a similar character. The women who were attired in weird varicoloured costumes without any regard to harmony, then danced for the amusement of the officers and crew and sung peculiar native songs. At the conclusion of this contribution the male natives gave a war dance. They became very excited, created unearthly noises, stamped their feet, shouted at the top of their voices and fiercely engaged in a sham battle…’
HMS Pylades was built for the Royal Navy and launched in 1884 as a satellite class sloop. She commenced service on the Australia station in November 1894 and left in January 1905
Tongan headrests protected hairstyles and prevented the head, the seat of an individual’s spiritual force or ‘mana’ from touching the ground and thereby being defiled. Their traditional significance was not just limited to their value as a highly desirable personal possession, they were also used as important bartering objects in ceremonial exchanges.
Medium
Wood, Fibre
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