Carved wooden hand


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

Captain Cook visited Easter Island on his second voyage in 1774. His ship, Resolution, was in the area for only five days. His crew included the father and son naturalists Johann Reinhold and Johann Georg Forster. This carving was collected by a Tahitian called Mahine, who was acting as interpreter for the crew. He gave it to Johann Reinhold Forster, who subsequently presented it to the British Museum.The carving represents a woman's left hand, and George Forster comments in his account of the voyage of Resolution that '... its fingers were all bent upwards, as they are in the action of dancing ... and its nails were represented very long, extending at least three fourths of an inch beyond the finger's end'.More recently it had been suggested that the hand may have been used by a priest or priestess in healing or sorcery.

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  • Title: Carved wooden hand
  • Date Created: 1750/1799
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 31.00cm; Width: 10.00cm; Depth: 3.50cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: carved
  • Registration number: Oc,EP.32
  • Place: Found/Acquired Easter Island
  • Other information: Cultural rights may apply.
  • Material: wood
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Collected by Mahine. Donated by Forster, Johann Reinhold. From Cook, James