Major Piece of Central Polynesian Art, the Very Rare Ohly Figure, to Be Sold by Christie’s

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PARIS.- Christie’s African and Oceanic Art department announce the sale of a major piece of Central Polynesian art originating within the triangle formed by the Society, the Austral and the Cook Islands. The very rare Ohly figure is estimated between 600,000 and 800,000 euros. There is a small corpus of extant wood carvings from Central Polynesia which continue to be an intriguing enigma. We understand today that Polynesian figurative carving, in essence, are metaphors for human ancestry and origin. However, the precise island origins and meanings were rarely recorded or correctly noted in the nineteenth century. Many were destroyed. Therefore, a complete corpus remains elusive. A study of the traits of the Ohly figure place it closest in overall form to a figure labelled ‘The God Tangaroa, Tahiti, Polynesia’ in the Museum der Kulturen, Basel, Switzerland (Vc 1521). The arms carved free of the slightly distended b