The freedom and breadth of perception that allowed the unknown artist to represent an oceanic spirit in the manner depicted above is pretty breathtaking, really.
The union of the entire fish with the anthropomorphic body, complete with strange, swirling tail and piscine mascots is a perplexing and poetic amalgam. Strange that the northern peoples of my own ancestry did not seem to have constructed or worshiped such intimate embodiments, despite being almost as dependent on the sea as the islanders of the Pacific.
Did christianity abolish such archetypes? Why have I never seen anything like this from them, even on cave walls? Maybe I just need to look a bit closer.
The solar motifs on the Austral Island house post to the left are far more familiar and indeed, almost universal.
Hanging from a wall at the rear of the exhibit, this was nonetheless the kind of object that necessitates contemplation, much of it spent sweeping my tongue over my own dentition and wondering how many people it required. I feel a strange dearth of offence or even empathy; it is a naked thing, oddly mute and aesthetically neutral though there is a distant beauty in its polished ivory and softly lustrous dentine. In imagining it around my own neck, I can almost hear the quiet, clattering little patter and click of the teeth as they shift with my movements. Some of them seem old and worn, others relatively untried.
The incisor to the bottom right was turning bad when it was removed. Was it sacred or profane? Respectful of the dead or contemptuous of their existence?
I prefer to contemplate such items in ignorance of their specific context.