Basket or bucket of wood and cylindrical, covered with plaited coconut fibre in wedge-shaped designs black and pale brown with small shell bead rings; handle of coconut fibre cord. Lid missing. [JU 29/07/2013]

Place details: OCEANIA POLYNESIA. Tonga / Local Name: Unknown. Materials: Coconut Fibre Plant / Wood Plant / Shell / Pigment / ?. Processes: Plaited / Carved / Dyed / Basketry / Perforated / Twined Woven / ?. Colour: Black and brown Dimensions: Max H = 365 mm Max Diam = 190 mm D = 325 mm Field Collector: Johann Reinhold Forster and George Forster When Collected: Between 2 and 7 October 1773 or between 26 and 29 June 1774 Other Owners: Johann Reinhold Forster and George Forster; from late January 1776, Ashmolean Museum PRM Source: Ashmolean Museum Acquired: Transferred 19 April 1886 Other Numbers: Forster 87

KEYWORD: Bucket / Basket / Vessel / CLASS: Vessel / Basketry / ?.

Object description: The bucket is constructed with a hollow wooden core, i.e. bucket, with an outer covering of coconut fibre basketry. The basketry is of the kato mosi kaka type and made from both dyed and undyed coconut fibres. The pattern is a series of triangles, often three to four, which meet at their points. The form represents two birds flying together and metaphorically represents a high-born person whose parents are of equally high standing. The way this pattern is placed and designed appears to change from basket to basket. On the bucket, the bottom has been woven in a double spiral pattern. On the body of the basket the pattern takes the form of 6 columns of triangles each, 12 triangles high (the triangles are all right triangles and are stacked to form rectangles). There are 6 of these rectangles that make up the column. The triangles alter in colour, brown to black, to form the pattern described above. The wooden vessel has been made from a single piece of wood. Chisel marks are seen on the interior of the piece and the vessel is 3-4 mm thick. At the bottom of the bucket, between the vessel and the basket, there is a piece of white and brown patterned bark cloth. The basket has been woven using twining patterns, a regular twist on the bottom of the basket and an alternating or countered twist on the body of the piece. The basket component has 4 warps per cm throughout the basket; this means warps have been added to the basket to keep the count the same as the object grows. The majority of these additions are seen on the bottom and lowermost sections of the basket and are identifiable by the knot that keeps the new warp in place. The body of the basket has an average of 26 wefts per cm and on the bottom 22 wefts per cm. Beads are used to separate the triangles, and decorate the object. The beads on average measure 2 mm in height. On the lowermost row, horizontal lines of beads cut through 5 of the 6 black triangles. The next two rows as well as the single black triangle at the bottom of the basket have only a single row of beads cutting through. The final top three rows have two rows of beads horizontally through the black triangles. The beads are used individually throughout the piece though there are some areas where they have been doubled. A few brown beads are seen throughout the bead work on the bucket, most are located on the lower third of the basket though there area few that are seen near the top of the object as well. These beads are most likely made from coconut shell. Four small holes have been drilled through the wooden vessel along the lip. These run along the back and two the left side of the bucket. A fifth may have been obscured due to animal damage on the right side of the piece. Two sets of two holes are seen at either side of the basket. These have been used to lash the basket to the wooden vessel during an earlier treatment. [Emma Schmitt (Conservation Intern) 23/08/2013; JU 23/08/2013]

Publications history, trails & websites: Listed in the Catalogue de la Section Ethnographique de l’Exposition Internationale Coloniale et d’Exportation Générale tenue à Amsterdam du 1 Mai au 31 Octobre 1883, by L. Serrurier (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1883) [Also published in Dutch], the accompanying catalogue to the above exhibition, as no. 9: ‘Collection of objects from Captain Cook’s second voyage, exhibited by the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. … 9. Wooden box, in the form of a vase, enclosed in a material the same as above; the triangles of the upper edge are arranged at an angle. (Cook Second Voyage, p. 21, fig. 6). ' [Translated from French by Adrienne Hopkins, 2002]. [JP 22/9/2004]

Listed according to the 'Forster list' numbering system in 'From the Islands of the South Seas 1773–4: An Exhibition of a Collection Made on Capn. Cook's Second Voyage of Discovery by J. R. Forster—A Short Guide (Oxford: Pitt Rivers Museum, no date [1970]): 'The Friendly Isles (Tonga)...87. A round wooden box covered with basket work of shells and Coconut fibres. The wooden cylinder is covered with wedge-shaped designs of plaited coconut fibre in either black or brown, each bordered by shell bead rings. Top and handle of coconut fibre missing. Height: 36 cm.' [unsinged, undated; JC 14 8 2015

Listed as number 44 under ‘Tonga...Baskets’ on page 221 of 'Artificial Curiosities': Being an Exposition of Native Manufactures Collected on the Three Pacific Voyages of Captain James Cook, R.N. at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, January 18, 1978 - August 31, 1978 on the Occasion of the Bicentennial of the European Discovery of the Hawaiian Islands by Captain Cook - January 18, 1778 (Bernice P. Bishop Museum Special Publication 65), by Adrienne L. Kaeppler (Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1978): '44. Basketry-covered wooden bucket, Oxford (87). Height 36 cm. Evidence: Forster collection, second voyage. Depicted in the plate of Tongan artifacts in the official account of the voyage (Cook, 1777, Plate 21). Figure 430. Literature: Gathercole, n.d. (1970) [see above]'. [JP 24/7/2002]

Published as part of the Forster Collection on a dedicated website at www.prm.ox.ac.uk/forster (from February 2001). [JC 7 7 2005]

Listed as catalogue number 283 and illustrated in colour on page 195 of James Cook and the Exploration of the Pacific, by Adrienne l. Kaeppler et al. (London: Thames & Hudson, 2009) with the caption: '283 Bucket | Tonga, by 29 June 1774 | Wood, coconut fibre, shell, dye, h 36.5 cm, Ø 19cm | Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, 1886.1.1329 (Forster 87) | Wooden bucket carved from the solid block of wood, sheathed with a "basket" of plaited coconut fibre. Alternating triangles of brown and dyed black are bordered with small white shells. An engraving of what appears to be this piece was reproduced in the official account of the second voyage (Cook, 1777, pl. XXI) The engraved example has a lid. There is no mention of a lid in Georg Forster's list, so either it was mislaid before the collection arrived in Oxford or this is a different example. J[eremy].C[oote]. [FB 09/04/2013]

Published (detail only) as a postcard by the Historisches Museum Bern / Musée Historique de Berne in association with the exhibition James Cook und die Entdeckung der Sūdsee / James Cook and the Exploration of the Pacific, held there from 7 October 2010 to 13 February 2011. Caption (on reverse) reads: 'Korbgeflecht eines Holzbehälters (Ausschnitt), Tonga, 1774, Holz, Kokosfaser, Muschelschale, Pigment. (c) Oxford, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford'. Example in RDF. [JC 17 2 2011]

For an account of the history of the collection of which this is part, see 'The Cook-Voyage Collections at Oxford, 1772–1775', by Jeremy Coote, in Jeremy Coote (ed.), Cook-Voyage Collections of 'Artificial Curiosities' in Britain and Ireland, 1771–2015 (MEG Occasional Paper No. 5), Oxford: Museum Ethnographers Group (2015), pp. 74–122. (Copy in RDF: Researchers: Jeremy Coote (Cook-Voyage Collections).) [JC 9 6 2016]

Research notes: Tubular basket with exterior in woven horizontally triangular pattern alternating in black and brown fibre. Interior is a wooden bucket carved from the solid. Edges of the triangles are bordered with small round white shell beads which are sewn onto the basket. According to Peter Gathercole the use of black dyed fibre is very characteristic of Tonga material. [NM 2/3/97]

The snail shells have been identified by Kathie Way, Senior Curator of Mollusca at the Natural History Museum, London, as being a species of Dentalium [JU 19/09/2012]

On a research visit to the PRM on 23/24 June 2015, with his daughter Kolokesa U. Māhina-Tua (Associate Curator-Pacific, Auckland War Memorial Museum), Dr Okusitino Māhina observed that the pattern on the base of the basket represents mata, a symbol which represents an eye. [NC 24/06/2015]