About this object

A wooden flute carved in the shape of a human figure (head and upper body, no arms or legs) tapering towards the bottom. There are two holes in the front, one in the middle and one near the bottom, and a second face below the middle hole. The eyes are shell-inlaid. The surface decoration is based on haehae (grooves) and pakati (dog's tooth notches), mainly on the back and the upper and lower parts of the front. The faces have quite simple carved decoration, with a three-lobed koru (hooked bulbed motif) on the forehead of the upper one, which has a protruding tongue. The 'flute' is hollow throughout.

Object specifics

  • Type
    Music/sound; Fake
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place made
    Oceania: Polynesia: New Zealand
  • Date made
    1933 before
  • Materials
    Wood; Shell; Technique: Carved, inlaid
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of the Trustees of the Wellcome Collection
  • Collector
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place collected
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Date collected
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Measurements
    3.3 x 3.3 x 17.5 cm
  • Note
    Purchased by the Welcome Historical Medical Museum at Sotheby's Auction Rooms on 5 April 1933, Lot 154 (Mr Comins).

    The style indicates that this is a fake, or was made as a souvenir, probably by the forger James Frank Robieson.
  • Related people


Previous owners

Object view = Humanities
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