Food container

Photography Carl Warner

Photography Carl Warner

Photography Carl Warner

Photography Carl Warner

Photography Carl Warner

Photography Carl Warner

Photography Carl Warner

Photography Carl Warner

Registration number
2171
Item name
Food container 
Category
Magic/Ritual
Container
 
Indigenous name
apira ni mwane 
Maker
Unrecorded  
Associated cultural group
 
Place
Pacific > Solomon Islands
Map
Collector
Captain Sydney Mercer-Smith 
Acquisition date
December 08, 1951 
Acquisition method
Donated by Mr Sydney Mercer-Smith 
Raw material
wood; shell, nautilus; parinarium paste
Dimensions
H: 60 mm W: 240 mm L: D: 100 mm Circum:

Description

Wood food container carved in the shape of a bonito; the pointed head of the bonito tapers to one end of the container and the tail at the other end; two small fins protrude from each side. The wood is blackened with the body, tail, fins and head inlaid with nautilus shell. Blue and white sticker on the underside of the base states 'Penfolds, Sydney'. Registration number 2171 marked with pen and tag.

Research notes

From the UQ Anthropology Museum exhibition ‘Solomon Islands: Re-enchantment and the Colonial Shadow’, a scholarly project curated by Diana Young in collaboration with research consultants Graham Baines, Annie Ross, Clive Moore and David Akin, August 2016 – June 2017.

From the UQ Anthropology Museum exhibition 'In the Red; on the vibrancy of things' June 2012 - January 2013. In the Red exhibition label: Apira ni mwane / Bonito bowl, c.1895. Leadership in the Solomon Islands could be consolidated and won through hosting communal feasts. Ornamental bowls, such as this, were used to place food offerings to personal spirits and to the adaro, merman-like sea spirits.

This bonito food container was used for male initiation and would have been hung high in a men’s house [Lawrence Foana’ota pers. comms. 13/04/2011].

The food container was acquired as part of a large group of objects donated to the University’s Anthropology Museum by Mr Sydney Mercer-Smith. The objects were collected by his father Captain Sydney Mercer-Smith in the years 1893-1900 while he was employed as a Queensland government agent in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Captain Mercer-Smith worked on the Queensland labour trade vessels to oversee the recruitment of Islanders for work on the sugar plantations in Queensland [Mercer-Smith source file].

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