We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

🛈 Read about our COVID-safe plans and what you need to know before visiting.

Title

Nguzunguzu or Toto isu (canoe figurehead)

early 20th century

Artist

Solomon Islands people

Solomon Islands

Alternate image of Nguzunguzu or Toto isu (canoe figurehead) by Solomon Islands people
Alternate image of Nguzunguzu or Toto isu (canoe figurehead) by Solomon Islands people
Alternate image of Nguzunguzu or Toto isu (canoe figurehead) by Solomon Islands people
Alternate image of Nguzunguzu or Toto isu (canoe figurehead) by Solomon Islands people
Alternate image of Nguzunguzu or Toto isu (canoe figurehead) by Solomon Islands people
Alternate image of Nguzunguzu or Toto isu (canoe figurehead) by Solomon Islands people
Alternate image of Nguzunguzu or Toto isu (canoe figurehead) by Solomon Islands people
Alternate image of Nguzunguzu or Toto isu (canoe figurehead) by Solomon Islands people
Alternate image of Nguzunguzu or Toto isu (canoe figurehead) by Solomon Islands people
Alternate image of Nguzunguzu or Toto isu (canoe figurehead) by Solomon Islands people
Alternate image of Nguzunguzu or Toto isu (canoe figurehead) by Solomon Islands people
  • Details

    Other Titles
    nguzu nguzu
    musu musu
    canoe prow ornament
    Place where the work was made
    New Georgia Island Solomon Islands
    Cultural origin
    Solomon Islands people
    Date
    early 20th century
    Media categories
    Sculpture , Woodwork
    Materials used
    wood, black dye, nautilus shell inlay
    Dimensions
    32.5 x 23.0 x 14.0 cm
    Credit
    Purchased 1962
    Location
    Not on display
    Accession number
    IA160.1962
    Copyright
    © Solomon Islands people, under the endorsement of the Pacific Islands Museums Association's (PIMA) Code of Ethics

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Solomon Islands people

    Works in the collection

    1

    Share
  • About

    In the Solomon Islands, long plank-built war canoes are revered for their size, speed and splendour. Stained black and inlaid with white nautilus shell, the outer length of the canoe's raised prow is festooned with large cowrie shells. At the bow, carved anthropomorphic figureheads are lashed just above the waterline. Appropriate rituals accompany the construction and decoration of these canoes, which are still made today.

    Before missionisation, war canoes were used in head-hunting raids – the small head held in the hands of this figure emphasises its role as a symbol of head-hunting. One of the first works to enter the Pacific collection, this carving was purchased from a private collection in Sydney and closely resembles a late 1800s 'nguzunguzu' from Roviana Lagoon, in Geneva's Barbier-Mueller Museum.

    [entry from Exhibition Guide for 'Melanesian art: redux', 2018, cat no 1]

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 4 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 5 publications