51 (page 62) MAORI HEI TIKI, NEW ZEALAND Nephrite
Exceptional nephrite jade blade being transformed into a hei tiki. The body of the finished part of the effigy is hunched up, in the traditional position: with bent, jointed legs, arms spread out from a slim bust and framed by powerful shoulders. The face is being formed, in the imagination of the sculptor, who did not have time to transform it completely. In reference to a related, but much less spectacular work, Sidney Moko Mead expresses the hypothesis that the original blade was a toki poutangata, that is, a sacred axe blade, a symbol of power and authority. This blade could also be entrusted to a person in the community who became its guardian, the transmission of the object to a third person leading to the loss of the sovereignty of the tribe's chief. The transformation of this blade sculpted in nephrite with its animated matter and the deep green colour shows the importance it was given in Maori culture. The traces of precise tools, with ancient marks, suspends what is still being formed in time, in an artistic moment of incredible intensity. Incredibly rare, this great tiki "in progress" bears witness to infinite sensibility.
58 (page 70) STONE HEAD FROM THE HAAVAO VALLEY, NUKU HIVA, MARQUESAS ISLANDS
This sculpture was first mentioned in print in Karl von den Steinen’s comprehensive Die Marquesaner und ihre Kunst (1925-1928). He photographed it himself in Cherbourg in “Madame Maisse’s garden”. He considered that it had “absolutely extraordinary value”, with the large, round eyes and flattened nose of this “votive head with its plaited headband” pointing towards the most ancient style and representing, in his view, “the greatest achievement of the Marquesas Islands”. He described it several times times as a “Gorgon’s head” with “apotropaic” qualities, underlined by the red tint of the stone, and recalling the worship made of human skulls by the Marquesians. The circumstances of its acquisition by the naval lieutenant Henri Jouan are known thanks to the unpublished diary he wrote in Nuku Hiva between July 1855 and June 1856, and to a note sent with the donation he made to the Natural History Museum in Cherbourg, in 1886, of another stone sculpture depicting a pig’s head1, which was discovered in the same place: “This head was found in 1854 in an ancient burial ground, a real lucus (sacred grove), where the natives only ever ventured with terror, in the upper Haavao valley, Taio-hae Bay, on Nukuhiva Island. To make vital repairs to our ship’s rudder, we cut a branch from an enormous calophyllum inophyllum on this site, which is highly tapu (sacred), and to this sacrilege the natives were quick to attribute a flu epidemic that struck our crew heavily. Along with the pig’s head, we found a large quantity of decomposing human bones, pigs’ bones, several tiki in similar red stone, one of which is almost 0.80 m high and is now in Cherbourg.” In his diary, Jouan adds: “In the Haavao valley there is a real sacred grove, where we chopped down some wood, at the top of the hill, from an age-old temanu tree, and from a gigantic banyan tree shading a platform where religious ceremonies must have been celebrated. Here we found some crude idols made of red stone. The site was used as a cemetery.” According to this same document, “the repair work on the rudder pintle, which was in a somewhat worrying state,” took place in March 1854. The long career of Henri Jouan (1821-1907) took him to Nuku Hiva on three occasions, first as an executive officer on the corvette L’Artémise, then as Commandant-Particular for the Marquesas Islands posted to Taiohae. He also stayed in Tahiti and New Caledonia, bringing back a range of different objects to enrich the collections at the Cherbourg Museum. The archaeological survey of the Marquesas Islands carried out by the Bayard Dominick Expedition allowed the monument described by Henri Jouan to be located in the Haavao valley. In 1920-1921, the me’ae (sacred site) of Paetekeika, on the hil