Wooden image in human form, male. [JC 24 5 2007]

Place details: OCEANIA POLYNESIA. French Polynesia (Overseas Collectivity of France) / Society Islands Tahiti ? Ra'iatea ?. Local Name: ti'i Materials: Wood Plant / ?. Processes: Carved / ?. Colour: Brown Dimensions: Max L = 328 mm Max W = 130 mm Field Collector: Johann Reinhold Forster and/or George Forster When Collected: Between 17 August and 18 September 1773, or between 22 April and 4 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 38; Duncan 265; [Ashmolean] AM 1423

KEYWORD: Figure / Religious Object / CLASS: Figure / Religion / Navigation? / ?.

Object description: Male figure carved from heavy wood, with straight shoulders and large ears. The damage to the feet suggests that the figure has been cut from a larger piece of wood, and the figure may originally have been on a canoe prow. [JC 18/12/2013; JU 18/12/2013]

Publications history, trails & websites: Listed as number 265 on page 185 of A Catalogue of the Ashmolean Museum Descriptive of the Zoological Specimens, Antiquities, Coins, and Miscellaneous Curiosities (Oxford, 1836): ''South Sea Islands, &c. 263–266. Wooden deities from Otaheite.' [JC 8 7 2005]

Listed (with 1886.1.1424) as number 14 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): ‘14. Two cylindrical idols. Both have the left arm tightly across the chest. The chin of one is prominent. One represents a male being and the other a female.' [Translated from the French by Adrienne Hopkins, 2002]. [JP 22/9/2004; JC 1 7 2005, 24 5 2007]

Illustrated as a drawing as Plate 4A on page 12 of The Art Forms of Polynesia, by Gilbert Archey (Bulletin of the Auckland Institute and Museum, No. 4), (Auckland: Whitcombe and Tombs Limited, 1965). Also listed on page 65 in Archey's 'Appendix: Record of Society and Austral Islands images preserved in collections or illustrated in early voyages...'. [JC 27 8 2000]

Illustrated in black and white with Forster 39 (1886.1.1424) on page 208 of Polynesian Art, by Edward Dodd (London: Robert Hale & Company, 1967). N.B. On page 354 of 'Explication of the Illustrations' Dodd wrongly ascribes the figures to the Bishop Museum, Honolulu and gives the wrong dimensions. In his caption, Dodd discusses the possibility that such Tahitian images were imported from Rarotonga. [JC 25 11 1999]

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 text from the 'Forster' manuscript is followed by the following notes: 'Often mounted on canoes. Heights: (male) 33 cm.; (female) 30 cm.' [JC?; JC 24 5 2007]

Illustrated in black and white on page 8 of the Oxford Mail for Friday 1 May 1970 (no. 12,855), where it illustrates 'Collection from Cook's Discoveries (Oxford's Treasures by John Owen)', by John Owen, a review of the exhibition 'From the Islands of the South Seas, 1773-4' (see above). [JC 19 3 2004]

Illustrated in black and white as 'Figure 607 - Wood Male Figure (ti'i)', 'Figure 608 - Wood Male Figure, side view of Fig. 607', and 'Figure 609 - Wood Male Figure , rear view of Fig. 607) on pages 1,752, 1752, and 1,753 of 'The Material Culture of Ancient Tahiti', by Roger Rose (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, Ph.D. thesis, 1971). Described on page lxxxii of the 'List of Illustrations' (pp. xxii-lxxxix): '607. Wood Male Figure (ti'i). Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford, A. M. 1423, Ex coll. Ashmolean Museum. Collected by J. R. Forster during Cook's second voyage. Height, 340 mm. Gif [sic] in Archey 1965: 12, p;. 4A; Dodd 1967: 208. Figure 608 - Wood Male Figure, side view of Fig. 607. Figure 609 - Wood Male Figure , rear view of Fig. 607.' [JC 2 11 2012]

Listed as number 29 in the unpaginated La Découverte de la Polynésie (Paris: Société des Amis du Musée de l'Homme, 1972) and discussed (with 1886.1.1424, Forster 39) at length: 'TI’I. Religious sculpture. Height: 30.5 cm. [sic; correct figure is 33.0 cm.], Forster Collection, Cook’s second voyage. For the first missionaries in Tahiti, the religious significance of the wooden or stone sculptures that they saw, not only at the places of cult worship but also in front on the huts and on the canoes, was so obvious that they were quick to destroy them at the moment of conversion, as they were the most visible and shocking symbols of pagan worship.… Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford PRM. 1886.1.1424 [sic; correct number is 1886.1.1423]' [Translated from French to English by Adrienne Hopkins, 2002.] (Photocopy of full text in RDF.) NB The numbering of the two Forster-collection Tahitian figures 1886.1.1423 (Forster 38) and 1886.1.1424 (Forster 39) has been confused here. The female figure (1886.1.1424; Forster 39) is the one illustrated. [JC 9 2 2001; JP 23/9/2002; JC 24 5 2007]

Illustrated (drawings; front view and right profile) as figure 3–3b on page 73 of Ethnography, Volume 1 of Ancient Tahitian Society (3 vols), by Douglas L. Oliver (Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1974). [JC 26 6 2003]

Listed with Forster No. 39 (1886.1.1424) as numbers 1 and 2 under ‘Tahiti...Images’ on page 136 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): 'Images. Two types of images were collected during Cook's voyages - carved wooden images in human form known as ti'i and pieces of wood covered with braided or plaited sennit known as to'o - the latter being the more sacred. It is likely that the wooden images collected on Cook's voyages were canoe carvings. Two wooden images, Oxford (38 (exhibited), 39). Heights 30 cm, 33 cm. Figure 235. Evidence: Forster collection. Second voyage. Literature: Gathercole, n.d. (1970).' N.B. The figure exhibited in the Artificial Curiosities exhibition and illustrated in the catalogue (figure 235) was not Forster 38 (1886.1.1423), the male figure, but its 'pair' Forster 39 (1886.1.1424), the female figure. According to Kaeppler's list, only one other ti'i was collected on Cook's voyages. This other, male, image is in the British Museum (TAH 78a) and is illustrated by Kaeppler (Figure 236). [JC 5 6 1998]

Illustrated (with 1886.1.1424) in colour on page 531 of 'Oceanic Art' by Peter Gathercole, in A History of Art, edited by Lawrence Gowing (London: Macmillan, 1983 [and subsequent editions]). Caption (same page) reads: 'Female and male figures representing spirits or minor deities from the Society islands, Polynesia; height 30 and 33 cm (12 x [sic] 13 in)...'. [JC 25 6 2004]

Illustrated in colour with Forster 39 (1886.1.1424) as figure 2 in Arts of the Pacific in the Eighteenth Century: The 'Cook Collection' at the Pitt Rivers Museum, by Jeremy Coote (Oxford: Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, 1996). Such figures are introduced by Coote as follows: 'The arts of 18th-century Tahiti are represented in the Museum's collection by barkcloths, musical instruments, tools, weapons and utensils. Many of the objects are of fine workmanship, but from a Western perspective perhaps the easiest to appreciate are the two wooden figures illustrated above. Such images in human form were known as ti'i. These were probably made to be mounted (like figureheads) on the bow or stern of a canoe.' [JC 29 8 1997]

Listed on page 572 of 'Appendix A: Catalogue of Society Island Objects with Secure Eighteenth-Century Provenance' in 'Shaping the Body Politic: Gender, Status, and Power in the Art of Eighteenth-Century Tahiti and the Society Islands', by Anne Elizabeth D'Alleva (New York: Columbia University, Ph.D. thesis, 1997). She describes it as follows: 'Male figure, standing with PL hand resting on stomach (PR arm mising). Five-fingered hand. Square head. Square shoulders with concave back. Tool marks (chisel?) on buttocks, backs of legs.' Also illustrated in black and white as Figure 4.18 on page 745. [This image is directly referred to on page 265. (JP 2/8/2002).] For D'Alleva's detailed discussion of such figures, see her Chapter 6 'Naval Warfare' and especially the section 'Gender and the Decoration of War Canoes' (pages 350–364). D'Alleva identifies such figures as 'free-standing sorcery figures'. Like the canoe images these were also called ti'i, but were 'the abodes of inferior and sometimes malignant gods, the 'oromatua' (p. 361). She quotes George Forster who noted that 'oromatua were embodied 'frequently under the rude figure of a man or woman, seldom exceeding eighteen inches in height' (D'Alleva, p. 363, quoting George Forster's A Voyage round the World, p. 552). [JC 25 11 1999]

Illustrated in black and white on page 5 of 'Treasures from Cook's Voyage on the Web', in Blueprint: The Newsletter of the University of Oxford, Vol. I, no. 8 (15 March 2001). [JC 22 3 2001]

Reproduced in colour (with 1886.1.1424) in a section devoted to the Museum on a poster produced in 2003 advertising the work of The Sasakawa Pacific Island Nations Fund (SPINF). (Copy in RDF.) [JC 13 6 2003]

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 74 and illustrated (with 1886.1.1424) in colour on page 147 of James Cook and the Exploration of the Pacific, by Adrienne l. Kaeppler et al. (London: Thames & Hudson, 2009): with the caption '74, 75 Two figures (male and female) ti'i | Society Islands, French Polynesia (probably Tahiti) by May 1774 | Wood, 13 x3 2.8 cm; 14 x 31.5 cm | Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, 1886.1.1423; 1886.1.1424 (Forster 38; 39) | Figures in male and female form. Not a pair, but presented together to the University of Oxford by Reinhold and Georg Forster and often exhibited together. Both are carved from heavy wood, the male with straight shoulders and large ears, the female with rounded shoulders, a brow line and cap, and a vulva. The asymmetrical position of the female figure's hands is unusual in figures from the Society Islands. Anne D'Alleva (1997, p.361-363) has identified such figures with the "free-standing sorcery figures" that were the abodes of inferior and sometimes malignant gods, the 'oromatua, pointing out that Reinhold Forster noted that the 'oromatua were frequently embodied in "the rude figure of a man or woman, seldom exceeding eighteen inches in heighth [sic] (Forster 1778, p.552). However, as Stephen Hooper has argued (Hooper 2006, p.173) the damage to the feet suggests they might have been cut from larger figures and thus have in fact served as canoe-prow or stern figures. J[eremy].C[oote]' [FB 08/04/2013]

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]