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Lot 9 - A Fine Easter Island ‘Tahonga’ Carving with Inlays, 19th/20th C

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Wood, carved, parcel-ebonized, obsidian and fish vertebrae inlay
Easter Island, 19th or 20th century
Egg-shaped ball with four central projections
At its thickest end perforated for a suspension string
Carved twin human head emerging from the top
Mounted to modern base
Cf. Carving, Tahonga, Easter Island, Burke Museum Seattle, object number: 2004-51/2
Provenance: private European collection
Height: 15.3 cm
Total height (incl. base): 18.5 cm
Very good condition

In general, purpose and classification of the egg-shaped balls, which are known as ‘Tahonga’, are still rather controversial among experts. It is possible that it is a symbol of fertility, because the two heads that are generally positioned at the upper part of the ball, appear as hatching from an egg. In the Polynesian language Tahonga means something like ‘treasure’ or ‘little gem’ and it is believed that the carvings were worn around the neck on long chains. 

Michel & Catherine Orliac, Trésors de L’Ile de Pâques/Tresures of Easter Island – Collection de la congrégation des Sacrés-Coeurs de Jésus et de Marie SS.CC, Paris 2008, ill. 144.

The carving is in very good condition with minor signs of age and wear like partial surface abrasion and smaller bumps as well as occasionally tension cracks. The Tahonga’s height measures 15.3 cm, the total height including the base measures 18.5 cm. (nlu)

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