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A Man of the Sandwich Islands, Dancing


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Gallery locationNot on display

Object details:

Object ID PAI4189
Description This engraving after a drawing by John Webber comes from the official account of Cook's third voyage, 'A voyage to the Pacific Ocean', published by Scatcherd and Whitaker in 1784. Captain James Cook (1728-1779) made three separate voyages to the Pacific (with the ships Endeavour, Resolution, Adventure, and Discovery) and did more than any other voyager to explore the Pacific and Southern Ocean. Cook not only encountered Pacific cultures for the first time, but also assembled the first large-scale collections of Pacific objects to be brought back to Europe. He was killed in Hawaii in 1779. John Webber was the artist on Cook’s third voyage from 1776-1780. The Resolution and the Discovery visited for the second time the Hawaiian Islands, Hawaii, Kauai, Niihau between 17 January-14 March 1779. Cook was warmly greeted in Hawaii and received an almost god-like status. Here, a Hawaiian man dances. Webber saw Hawaiian dancing in early February 1779. There is no account of it in the Journals but King described the scene in the official publication: “We were this day much diverted, at the beach, by the buffooneries of one of the natives. He held in his hand an instrument, of the sort described in the last volume [a rattle]; some bits of sea-weed were tied round his neck; and round each leg, a piece of strong netting, about nine inches deep, on which a great number of dogs’ teeth were loosely fastened, in rows. His style of dancing was entirely burlesque, and accompanied with strange grimaces, and pantomimical distortions of the face; which though at times inexpressible rididulous, yet, on the whole, was without much meaning, or expression. Mr. Webber thought it worth his while to make a drawing of this person, as exhibiting a tolerable specimen of the natives; the manner in which the maro is tied; the figure of the instrument before mentioned, and of the ornaments round the legs, which, at other times, we also saw used by their dancers.’ Mounted in album with PAI4078-PAI4188, PAI4190-PAI4214.; Page 233.; Plate No. 62.
Date made 1779

Artist/Maker Webber, John
Grignion, Charles
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials engraving & etching
Measurements Sheet: 400 x 570 mm; Plate: 300 x 210 mm
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