Title / object name
Bowl (nima sara’a)Medium Summary
Wood, shell, pigmentMaterials
wood, shell, pigment
|Approximate ||570 (Height) x 1950 (Length) x 460 (Width) mm|
Acquisition history unknown
The shell inlay decoration of this wooden bowl suggests that it was probably made in the islands of the Southeast Solomons, a region that includes Ulawa and San Cristobal and the small islands in between. This particularly large and elaborate bowl is an excellent example of the art of the carvers in this area.
Materials and decoration techniques
All the wooden bowls from this area are made from the same light wood, stained black with plant juice mixed with charcoal. They come in a great range of sizes and shapes, from small plain bowls which might hold only a few yams, to very large bowls used at feasts, often to serve the portions set aside for chiefs or visitors. Nautilus shells were usually used for the inlay on smaller bowls, and cone shells for the larger bowls. One of the criteria by which a master carver was recognised was his skill in cutting and placing the shell pieces on the bowl.
Most bowls are oval with handles at each end. The shapes of these handles are stylised depictions of creatures such as birds, squid or crickets from which the bowls are named. However, bowls in the form of a bird, with the bird's beak impaling or swallowing a fish, as here, are also a well-established form.
During its long residence in the former Dominion and National Museums, the catalogue number for this bowl was lost, but it is thought to be the bowl purchased from the missionary scholar W G Ivens at the beginning of the twentieth century. Ivens described this kind of bowl as a nima sara'a .