[singlepic id=222 w=250 h=450 float=none]Breastplate, Civavonovono
Breastplate composed of four sections of whale ivory enclosing a turtle-shaped piece of pearl shell.
Koroinasau, Nadroga, Viti Levu, Fiji. Collected by A. von Hügel, 5 August 1876. Z 2741
Tongan and Samoan canoe-builders were also renowned for making whale ivory necklaces and breastplates. Obtained through exchange or from communities settled locally, these objects were highly valued by Fijian chiefs. The engineering of the different elements forming a breastplate demonstrates the high level of skills involved in their making. In some cases, the ties are invisible at the front, and concealed by small ivory pegs at the back. In the 19th century, breastplates and necklaces were sometimes exchanged at large gatherings called solevu.