Tree fern figure

Contributed by Guernsey Museum

A Mallicollo Tree-Fern figure collected by William Carey - Royal Navy, in 1876. © Guernsey Museums and Galleries

This Tree-Fern figure was given to Commander Carey in exchange for a yard of red calico.This figure was carved from the trunk of a tree fern by the indigenous peoples of the island of Mallicollo (Malekula) in the Republic of Vanuatu. It was brought to Guernsey by William Maule Carey, who joined the Royal Navy in 1859 and retired as Captain in 1896. He served and fought in the seas around Japan, Australia, New Zealand and China. His position brought him into contact with many native peoples of the South Pacific Ocean. Statues of this type are sometimes made to represent ancestral figures or act as an "abode" for the spirit of an ancestor to inhabit. They are an integral part of the Nimangki ceremony in which men pass through a number of ritual grades or levels within the society and are directly related to their status and power. This carving was given to Commander Carey in exchange for a yard of red calico.

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