Man's headdress (Pa'e Kaha)


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

This prestigious headdress, worn by men, is of the type known as Pa'e Kaha. It consists of alternating plates of turtle-shell and white triton shell. Each plate is connected by coconut fibre string, threaded through drilled holes, to the plaited coconut fibre headband. The turtle-shell plates are carved in low relief with complete and partial human figures, called tiki in Marquesan. The human figure is often depicted in Marquesan art. Illustrations and descriptions contemporary with the early period of European contact indicate that the plates were worn downwards, somewhat surprisingly, as this inverts the figures. More recent versions replace the turtle-shell plates with a synthetic substitute.Other ornaments from the Marquesas Islands include shell and turtle-shell forehead decorations mounted on a fibre headband, armlets and leglets of human hair, and ivory ear ornaments carved with human figures or faces.

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  • Title: Man's headdress (Pa'e Kaha)
  • Date Created: 1800/1875
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 47.50cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: plaited; carved
  • Registration number: Oc1934,-.3
  • Place: Found/Acquired Marquesas Islands
  • Other information: Cultural rights may apply.
  • Material: coconut palm fibre; turtle-shell; clam shell
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Nordmann, Paul Isaac