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Clappers tete

Clappers tete

Place: Tahiti & Society Islands
Category: Ritual

shell, Tahiti and the Society Islands, d. 9.5–18.5 cm, Inv. Oz 165b

Forster Register C.3: ‘3 pieces of mother-of-pearl’ (Oz 165 a = Tonga; Oz 165 b = Tahiti; Oz 166 = Tahiti)

Humphrey No. 227: ‘a pair of Castinets or Clappers, formed of two Mother o’pearl Shells where with the Flute is sometimes accompanied in their Heivas or Dances at Otaheite & the other Society Isles.’ (= Oz 405 a, b)

One of two clappers that are shells, probably of the genus Maleagrina. Oz 165 b has a triangular break at the rim and four drilled holes placed approximately in the centre. Only a pentagonal fragment with a hole drilled into the centre remains of Oz 166. Oz 405 a, b is a complete clapper consisting of two parts, the outsides of which have been left untreated and are therefore of a matt blackish-brown hue. This pair has two perforations, each in the middle of the respective upper ridge of the shell bases, where they are joined together with remnants of barkcloth. When compared with pieces in the collections in Honolulu, Oxford, Rome, Sydney and Florence (Kaeppler 1978a: 125, 127f. and 1978b: 48, 127), it is possible to consider the clappers Oz 405 as accessories of the complete outfit of a priest. In the case of the ‘3 pieces of mother-of-pearl’ (Tahiti: Oz 165b and Oz 166), this can only be presumed. Because of the artificial perforations, they at least do not appear to be articles which were collected as natural objects. Gundolf Krüger


Kaeppler, Adrienne L, ‘Artificial Curiosities’ Being An Exposition of Native Manufactures Collected on the Three Pacific Voyages of Captain James Cook RN [Exhibition catalogue], Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu, 1978a.

Related artefacts

Clappers tete, Inv. Oz 166
Clappers tete, Inv. Oz 405a-b