Zoomorphic reliquaries are preserved in the houses used for initiation rituals for young boys in the Solomon Islands in Oceania. They are the resting place for the skulls of chiefs, while their long bones are placed in miniature canoes. Mourning rituals transform these dead into tutelary, protective powers.
This black painted wooden reliquary represents a fish similar to a tuna. The head of the animal has a powerful jaw astride which sites a small figure.
Fishing is extremely important in the Solomon Islands, and fish have a religious role. Gods invoked during battles sometimes take on the appearance of a shark, and chiefs or important people can be reincarnated after death as swordfish or sharks which then become tutelary divinities.