Tiki from the Marquesas Islands at Parcours des Mondes 2020
This exceptional statue called Tiki comes from the Marquesas Islands, an archipelago located a 1500 km away from Northern Tahiti. At the beginning this Tiki represented the founding ancestor of the Marquesas dynasty, then the first human being, and then there were an evolution towards what we call Etuas, who were great deified ancestors from important clans. Carved in Oceanic walnut called Tou in the Marquesas Islands, the Latin name Cordia Subcordata, this statue has been C-14 tested and dated between 1650 and 1848, it was essentially used as a pillar or caryatid in order to support the beams of exceptional structures in the Marquesas Islands, for Chiefs' houses or important characters' mausolea. From a strict stylistic point of view, the classical Marquesas style is obvious, with big round eyes, well designed eyebrow arches, and small discrete tattoos at the corners of the lips. This statue was discovered by the great African art dealer Charles Ratton in 1950 in Biarritz (France). We know less than ten statues of this importance made in wood in the world, all in museums collections, except for this one and another one sold in public auctions sale in 2017. It is interesting to note that a very similar statue was discovered by Pierre Vérité, another Parisian dealer in 1950, that he gave to his son Claude, who sold it to the Quai Branly museum in 2000. I think the two statues certainly belonged to the same monument as they are so similar.