North America, Hawaiian Islands, ca. 1920s CE. A gorgeous tiki totem, hand-carved from hardwood and colored with natural black pigment. The totem depicts a pair of expressive Hawaiian deities, one kneeling atop an attached square platform and the other kneeling on the other's head, with bent arms and legs tucked beneath massive heads bearing squinting eyes and fanged mouths. The carved figures are two of the four great Hawaiian gods, Ku and Lono. The top deity likely represents Lono who, despite the pair of large fangs, is the god of music, peace, and fertility, while the bottom figure likely represents Ku - or Ku ka'ili moko - the god of war and "snatcher of land" in Hawaiian mythology. Both deities are shown with lengthy draped headdresses arranged in a gridded pattern. A lovely Hawaiian presentation of the dichotomy between war and piece! Size: 5" W x 16" H (12.7 cm x 40.6 cm).
Provenance: private Newport Beach, California, USA collection; ex-private Collier collection, Florida, USA, stored for over 60 years
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Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age, minor chips to figures' faces, bodies, arms, feet, and base, with some nicks and fading to pigmentation of figures and base. Light earthen deposits within recessed areas. Old inventory sticker on base. Old inventory number "565 56 3148" carved into side of base.