Oceania Ornaments - Ornamentation of the people of the Pacific Islands



The ornamentation of the people of the Pacific Isles is full of interest and is remarkable for the evolution and perfecting of an ornamental style by a primitive people, with myths and traditions purely local and in no way influenced by other nations. 

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Еxcerpt from the book: A Manual of HISTORIC ORNAMENT TREATING UPON THE EVOLUTION, TRADITION AND DEVELOPMENT OF ARCHITECTURE AND OTHER APPLIED ARTS. PREPARED FOR THE USE OF STUDENTS AND CRAFTSMEN.

BY RICHARD GLAZIER, Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects; Head Master of the Municipal School of Art, Manchester.

LONDON: 1899

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It is a style of ornament full of meaning and symbolism, yet simple in detail and arrangement, not founded upon the beautiful vegetation and flora of their islands but upon abstract forms derived from the human figure, and arranged with a pleasing geometrical precision remarkable for a primitive people.

The ornamental art of these people may be broadly divided into provinces, each with its distinct ornamental characteristics and traditions, New Zealand showing the highest development and Australia the lowest in the ornament of Polynesia and Melanesia.

Much of the ornament is purely linear, consisting of parallel and zig-zag lines; that of Australia consists almost entirely of these lines incised in the ground and occasionally filled in with colour. 

In New Guinea a higher development is reached, the ornament, of straight and curved lines, being carved in flat relief. 

In the province of Tonga-Samoa, the surface is divided into small fields, and the linear ornament runs in a different direction on each of the fields. 

The Hervey and Austral Islands are distinguished by their remarkable adaptations of the human female figure, the illustrations given here showing the original type and its ornamental development. 

These examples, together with the circular eye pattern form the elements of the Hervey province, of which the Heape collection contains many fine examples. 

In the Solomon Island the linear ornament is occasionally interspersed with an inlay of angular pieces of mother of pearl. 

The New Zealand province is distinguished by its skillful pierced carving, the beauty of its spiral forms adapted from the human figure, fig. 1. 12., and the constant use of the border here given.