Art & Artists / Highlights / Chief's fly whisk

Chief's fly whisk

Chief's fly whisk
Late 18th/early 19th century
Austral Islands
Wood, coir and hair
l. 72.4 x w. 8.5 x d. 8.5 cm
1984
UEA 895

This is both a practical and ceremonial object made to keep flies away from the chief. It is made from quite humble materials and is an example of a luxurious object made from scant resources but with great skill and control. At the top of the handle is a twin figure, facing both ways. The handle is ridged to increase the firmness of the grasp. The shank of the whisk is made of extremely finely plaited coir and human hair. The loose plaiting below has been remade and is coarser.

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