Atea: Nature and Divinity in Polynesia from The Met Museum


By Maia Nuku Atea: Nature and Divinity in Polynesia focuses on an array of artistic creations that illuminate how Polynesians traditionally understood their relationship with the divine as active, dynamic, and manifested in the plants, feathers, and fibers of the islands they inhabited. Featuring some thirty exceptional works of Polynesian art that date from the late eighteenth to the nineteenth century, Atea examines celebrated examples of figural sculpture in wood and whale ivory; superbly executed feather headdresses and cloaks; and visually compelling fiber works, such as painted barkcloths and a small-scale spirit house, or temple. The author’s compelling essay represents a new phase in scholarship that looks to recover the early ritual landscape of Polynesia by examining the material nature of the art itself.

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