World Cultures, Pacific

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World Cultures

Object connections:

Collection World Cultures, Pacific
User collections Captain Cook's Third Voyage by NMMCollections
Gallery locationNot on display
PeopleHistorical Association: Cook, James
Provenance: Griffin, William
EventsExploration: Cook's Third Voyage, 1776
VesselsResolution (HMS)

Object details:

Object ID AAA2851
Description A fine wooden Tongan kali (head rest) with three legs, produced out of a single piece of wood. This is a particularly elegant example, likely to have been used by a Tongan of high status. Headrests were used in the Society Islands, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji primarily as pillows. The head was regarded as sacred and should not be allowed to touch the ground. Headrests also kept the head cool at night. They were used by both men and women, but particularly men. In Tonga a 'kali loa' is a long headrest but also refers to a mother's arms, where a child might rest their head for advice and protection. This example was collected on Captain Cook's third voyage by William Griffin, cooper on 'HMS Resolution', a nice example of collecting for curiosity or sale by an ordinary member of the crew.
Date made before 1777

Place made Tonga
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials wood
Measurements Overall: 163 mm x 830 mm x 90 mm
  • Kali (AAA2851)
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