Po 00388

Please find more information about the object below the image.

Producer unknown to us


Oceania, Polynesia, Hervey islands

Prior to 1902

Wood, carved

J. F. G. Umlauff (ethnographic dealership)

Purchased by the museum from Umlauff in 1902

Po 00388

In Polynesian commemorative culture, the four-legged, one-piece transportable throne is an important status symbol for high-ranking personalities. Only the ariki (supreme dignitary, god-king) was allowed to sit elevated. All other members of the community sat on mats on the floor. 

Thrones like this one became symbols of Polynesian culture and community identity during the colonial period. Epitomizing indigenous hierarchical structures, they became of interest to ethnographic research in the late 19th century. Traders collected them specifically for sale to museums in Europe. Because they kept their contacts in the colonies secret to protect their trade monopoly, we know nothing about how exactly the objects were acquired. With the advent of tourism in the early 20th century, these thrones were made almost exclusively for commercial purposes.

Birgit Scheps-Bretschneider