Side view of the figure known as A'a


British Museum

British Museum

This figure, known as A'a, was made on the island of Rurutu, one of the Austral Islands, in Polynesia. Its features are formed of thirty small figures which spring forth from its body and suggest fertility and the power to create life. A’a was carved with a hollow head and torso covered by a panel at the back and was probably designed to hold the skull and bones of an important ancestor. When A'a was surrendered to European missionaries in 1821, they recorded that the figure was named A'a after the ancestor who first settled on Rurutu.

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  • Title: Side view of the figure known as A'a
  • Date Created: 1505/1645
  • Physical Dimensions: H: 117 cm; W: 31 cm
  • Production place: Made in Rurutu, Austral Islands, Polynesia
  • Material: wood (sandalwood)
  • Copyright: The Trustees of the British Museum
  • British Museum website: Oc,LMS.19
  • Acquisition: Presented by a group of people from Rurutu to representatives of the London Missionary Society stationed at Ra'iatea in August 1821. Given as a symbol of their conversion to Christianity.