SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Bonhams
heads into its winter season of auctions with its second-ever annual sale solely devoted to Art of the South Seas, February 10 in San Francisco. The auction will include fresh-to-the-market Polynesian, Micronesian, Melanesian, Indonesian and Australian works of art made for use by those within their respective cultures.
Highlights of the auction will include an important and rare Rarotonga pole club (akatara) of the Cook Islands, carved from the heart (taiki) of the toa (ironwood) tree. Such clubs were likely created for chiefs or other members of high status within the society. This more than 7-foot-tall club is estimated to bring $100,000-150,000. It was acquired at a London auction in 1990, and was formerly in the James Hooper Collection.
Also notable in the auction will be a full-size breadfruit wood canoe and bailer from the Marshall Islands Namorik Atoll, estimated at $8,000-12,000. Canoes from this very remote atoll ceased to have been made before the Second World War. This example once belonged to Joseph E. Kennedy of Hawaii. Mr. Kennedy, who hung the canoe in his Pupukea, Hawaii home, was a Hawaiian archaeologist, well-known and respected as the principal of Archaeological Consultants of Hawaii, and later, Archaeological Consultants of the Pacific. He conducted archaeological research in American Samoa and in Micronesia, and he participated in excavations in Guatemala and Egypt.
A Marquesas Islands Club, 'u'u, is also of particular note in the sale. Estimated at $30,000 40,000, these uu clubs were a Marquesan warriors most prized possession. They served as both a weapon in close contact and as a mark of high status within the society.
Highlights continue with a rare Austral Islands spear, estimated at $25,000-35,000, being offered by a private collector who acquired it at auction in London in 1992; a selection of works from the renowned Leo Fortess Collection of Hawaii; and additional important private collections.