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A Man of the Sandwich Islands, in a mask


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Gallery locationNot on display

Object details:

Object ID PAI4195
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. The mask of the islander is a gourd helmet. It is surmounted by fern fronds (pala). The mask does not seem to be referred to in the various journals, it is however mentioned by King in the official account: ‘There remains to be mentioned another ornament…The figure of which may be better conceived from the annexed print, than any written description. It is a kind of mask, made of a large gourd, with holes cut in it for the eyes and nose. The top was stuck full of small green twigs, which, at a distance, had the appearance of an elegant waving plume; and from the lower part hung narrow stripes of cloth, resembling a beard. We never saw these masks worn but twice, and both times by a number of people together in a canoe, who came to the side of the ships laughing and drolling with an air of masquerading. Whether they may not likewise be used as a defence for the head against stones, for which they seem best designed, or in some of their public games, or be merely intended for the purpose of mummery, we could never inform ourselves.’ Mounted in album with PAI4078-PAI4194, PAI4196-PAI4214.; Page 239.; Plate No. 66. Depicts clothing, headwear: Hawaiian mask
Date made 1779

Artist/Maker Webber, John
Cook, Thomas
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials engraving & etching
Measurements Sheet: 570 x 400 mm; Plate: 284 x 207 mm
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