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Polynesia and Micronesia

Polynesia, from the Greek for “many islands,” covers more than a thousand islands in the triangle roughly formed by the Hawaiian Islands, Easter Island, and New Zealand. Visual expressions of genealogy, power, and spirituality are seen in various motifs and designs across a variety of objects, including instruments, jewelry, weaponry, figures, and textiles.

Micronesia, “tiny islands,” consists of over 2,000 islands together composing a land area about the size of Rhode Island, spread over about three million square miles of ocean, with fewer than a hundred of them large and fertile enough for human habitation. Not as abundant as in either Polynesia or Melanesia, the visual arts tend to be simple in form and regular in design.

Māori peoples, Te Ika-a-Māui (North Island), Aotearoa (New Zealand)
Canoe Prow (Tauihu)
19th century
Wood, shell
L 36 ¼ in. (92.1 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 65.35

Māori peoples, Te Ika-a-Māui (North Island), Aotearoa (New Zealand)
Flute (Koauau)
19th century
Wood, haliotis shell
L. 7 9/16 in. (19.2 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection, 2003.168

Māori peoples, Taranaki area, Te Ika-a-Māui (North Island), Aotearoa (New Zealand)
Weaving Peg (Turu Turu)
18th century
Wood, haliotis shell
H 17 ¾ in. (45.1 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection, 2010.21

Belau
Woman’s Valuable (Tolúk)
Late 19th or early 20th century
Turtle shell
L. 8 1/16 in. (20.5 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Gift of Ernst Anspach, 77.68.2