Burial Plaque (nenglataki), 20th century.
Tree fern, leaves and grasses, mud, pigments.
Museum purchase, with funds realized through the.
deaccession and sale of gifts from Marjorie van Andel.
and Tjeerd van And.
Oceania encompasses about 25,000 islands clustered in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, and the collection addresses both of these regions comprehensively. The works on exhibit in the gallery fully represent the strengths and scope of the collection. Supplemented by a few long-term loans, it includes several major works in wood from proto-Malay cultures of Indonesia. Among them are a pair of friezes from a Batak granary (sopo) , two Batak staffs, and an ancestral commemorative horse and rider figure (jara heda) from Flores. Other cultures represented by sculpture include the Dayak of West Kalimantan, the Toraja of Sulawesi, and the island of Nias. Island Southeast Asia is defined as including the Philippines as well, and there is one figure from the Ifugao people of the northern highlands of Luzon. The emphasis is on the ways in which the art of these cultures expresses their belief systems and reflects their origins on mainland Southeast Asia. Themes such as boats and horses are represented in textiles, metalwork, and beadwork, as well as figurative sculpture in wood and stone, much of it dating from the early 20th century or earlier. .
Another section is devoted to the diverse cultures of the South Pacific. Here the Melanesian island nations of Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, and New Caledonia are represented, and the Polynesian cultures of the Maori, Easter Island, and Hawaii. There are a few works in shell from Micronesia. The voyagers and their descendants who formed settlements in the South Pacific encountered a wide variety of environments, and their art reflects the resources available to them. Each group had its own deities and creation myths, culture heroes and tribal totems, and ways of using art to record them.