VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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ta'ovala
Oz 141
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

This mat is of highest quality. It is a good example of the art of plaiting in the traditional culture of Tonga. This mat is plaited out of leaf strips approximately 3 mm wide. The light brown strips are plaited diagonally and are without a pattern. The patterns in the dark diagonals arise because light and dark brown leaf strips are interwoven in different ways. Herring-bone patterns (chevron), checks combined with one another, squares, triangles and other geometric patterns may be recognized on the surface. Three edges are straight and closed; on one edge it may be seen that the mat has been cut apart. Adrienne Kaeppler mentioned a similar pandanus mat in Oxford with unpatterned light, and patterned dark diagonals. In contrast to the Goettingen mat however, the diagonal stripes are not continuously plaited into the mat. Certain matapule (ceremonial attendants) wore mats of this type.

History of the Object
This object, among others, was collected during James Cook’s three voyages through the Pacific Ocean (1768-71, 1772-75, and 1776-79/80). The items presented in the Goettingen Collection are of fascinating preservation and – in consideration of their age – irreplaceable items of the past. The "Friendly Islands" are stated in the Goettingen inventory as being the origin of the mat Oz 141. In contrast, there is a photograph of a mat in the catalogue "Ozeanien. Kunst und Kultur" which is almost identical to the one in Goettingen. The origin is given as the Cook Islands, because the photograph features the caption "Mat, Cook Islands, detail. Pandanus fibres”. This mat is now located in the British Museum in London.

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Type
Decorative Art 
Materials
Leaf strips 
Measurements
149 x 165 cm 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Tonga 
Geography
Tonga 
Time period
AD 18th century ~ AD 18th century 
Creation date
18th Century 
Function
Mat 
Acquisition
Part of the Cook/Forster Collection 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Ethnographic Collection, Institute for Cultural and Social Anthropology, Georg-August University Goettingen, Germany 
Museum
Ethnographic Collection of the University of Göttingen 
Credit line
 

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