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The tribal art of Oceania is culturally diverse as well as having a definite link with the mythology of our Oceania people. Sadly much of our mythology and tribal art has been lost mainly due to the advent of the missionaries however it is very pleasing that many of our people are now choosing to explore these particular aspects of our heritage.




This site is being progressively developed to show representative samples of the tribal art of the main islands and ethnic groups within Oceania including Australian Aboriginal art. Further examples of tribal art are being progressively added to this Web site.


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These images to the left are from the Cook Islands and  represent a Rarotongan staff god.

The image (far left) was drawn during the visit of the missionary vessel John Williams. As it was then seen the image averaged about thirteen feet in length with the centre section wrapped around with tapa cloth.

Usually only the upper portion (immediate left) has survived.

 Many of these images are thought to be of Oro, son of Tangaroa, although some investigators believe they represent Tangaroa himself


The image to the left is a  carved wooden figure, probably of the god Rongo.

It is one of seven images known to have survived a mass destruction of carvings which took place on the Gambier Islands on 16th April 1835 at the instigation of the missionaries.

The following range of tribal art found on these pages are selected as being representative of much of the tribal art found throughout Oceania.

Below are several examples of the tribal art of Melanesia:

This is a full size dugout approximately 11' long and 12" wide at the centre.
Beautiful matching symmetrical patterns have been carved on both sides and a crocodile
head has been carved as a prow. The person guiding the dugout stood in its centre and
paddled. It is from the Iatmul people, Sepik River in Papua New Guinea.

The Iatmul people believed they rode into existence on the back of a crocodile. Crocodile heads are carved into canoes, stirrers, food bowl handles and canoe paddle tops.

This old and rare Asmat figure is from the lake Sentani region of northwest New Guinea. It shows signs of extensive wear with a nice dark patina overall, the base is slightly rounded due to ceremonial use, with small odd worm holes - overall this piece has a rather powerful presence.


An old Vanuatu
mushroom head
war club.                    

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Jane Resture
(E-mail: jane@janeresture.com -- Rev. 3rd February 2013)