Arts of the South Seas: Island Southeast Asia, Melanesia, Polynesia, Micronesia ; the Collections of the Musée Barbier-Mueller

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Prestel, 1999 - Art - 368 pages
Drawing on the famous collections of the Musee Barbier-Mueller this unusual and beautifully illustrated book brings together these cultures to demonstrate the astonishing aesthetic similarities between civilizations located far apart in both space and time. While the arts of the Easter Islands and Maori civilizations have been well known for some years the creativity of the inhabitants of Borneo, Sulawei, and Sumatra is less familiar, and is scarcely represented in the major public collections.

On the basis of the linguistic consonance between the thousand or more modern languages spoken in Oceania, anthropologists and archaeologists have begun to trace the cultural links throughout this area, in particular through the rituals and beliefs which are often the inspiration for the forms and functions of the artifacts. Masks in human or animal form, made of tortoiseshell, wood, dried leaves or clay; drums, shields, and batons; multicolored clothing for war and peace; intricate jewelry; as well as a wide variety of everyday containers and implements -- all the treasures in this collection display a sophistication of ornament and technical expertise which rival the products of ancient European civilizations.

Scholarly essays by over thirty international experts focus on each island or civilization and form a fascinating study which will certainly become the standard work in this field, of interest to both students and the general reader.

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