Ceremonial Adze

European visitors and Mangaia souvenirs

Much impressed by the craftsmanship, early European visitors bartered for Mangaia adzes to take home. This example was given to the museum in 1837 by a Dr Ripley who was a surgeon and apothecary in Whitby (an apothecary is someone who prepares and sells drugs and medicines). He probably acquired it from a local sea captain, since most would have been his patients.

Christian missionaries arrived on Mangaia in 1826. As their influence spread, the adze lost its former religious significance, so this adze was probably made between 1826 and 1837. Throughout the rest of the 19th Century, Mangaian craftsmen produced ever more elaborate adzes, to satisfy the growing demand for spectacular souvenirs as the numbers of European visitors increased.

Zoom in and out of this Google map to appreciate how extremely remote the Island of Mangaia must have been to missionaries in 1826!





 
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