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Oceania
Austral Islands
Fly-Whisk Handle, Tahiri Ra'a
Nineteenth century
Wood, sennit, human hair
H. 15 1/2 in. (39.4 cm)
Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection
Indiana University Art Museum, 2010.9

The carved images and the presence of sennit and human hair indicate that, like the Wielgus Tahitian fly-whisk handle, this one was intended more as an indicator of status and prestige than as a utilitarian item. Although we cannot interpret the imagery with certainty, the janus figures at the top and the disks below may have genealogical significance. The human hair and fiber braided on the lower half of the handle increased the whisk's mana, or spiritual power. The coconut-fiber whisk has been cut from the bottom of the handle.