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Stilt Step (Tapuvae)

Arts of the Pacific Islands

An important aspect of male competition in the Marquesas Islands, stilt games were either group races or individual competitions in which one opponent attempted to knock the stilts out from under his rival. Oral traditions record that some performers were so skilled that they were able to turn somersaults as they tested their athletic ability. During certain religious events, however, stilt demonstrations also measured a man's spiritual strength. Stilts were composed of a step attached with ornamental lashings to a shaft between five and seven feet long.

CULTURE Marquesan
DATES late 19th or early 20th century
DIMENSIONS 14 1/4 x 2 1/2 x 4 1/4 in. (36.2 x 6.4 x 10.8 cm)  (show scale)
CREDIT LINE Gift of Arturo and Paul Peralta-Ramos
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Teakwood stilt, upper tiki carved as head with abstract body, incised with parallel lines forming diamonds; lower tiki carved with arms, legs Condition: broken at lower end, step portion broken, repaired and cracked
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Marquesan. Stilt Step (Tapuvae), late 19th or early 20th century. Wood, 14 1/4 x 2 1/2 x 4 1/4 in. (36.2 x 6.4 x 10.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Arturo and Paul Peralta-Ramos, 56.6.22. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 56.6.22_SL1.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 56.6.22_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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