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Ceremonial Canoe Paddle

41 1/4 x 9 in. (104.8 x 22.9 cm)

Unknown, Austral Islander
Austral Islander

Object Type: Woodwork
Medium and Support: Wood
Credit Line: Anonymous gift
Accession Number: 1953.31
Location: Currently on view
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Based on the size and intricately carved surface it is unlikely that this was ever used as a canoe paddle. Although knowledge of their original function is lost, it is believed that paddles like this may have been used to accentuate a dancer’s movements during ritual performances. By the late 19th century Austral artists recognized Westerners’ interest in the paddles fine carving and craftsmanship and began making them for the market.
[Gallery label text, 2009]

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