An 18th century crescent-shaped breastplate known as ‘Taumi’ from the Tahiti Islands

These were made from materials that embodied the status (mana) and prestige of the warrior-priests and chiefs who wore them. (Feathers various, including Pacific black duck and lorikeet [vini kura]), dog hair, shark teeth…)

This example’s intricate construction of concentric bands of iridescent feathers, perfectly graded shark teeth, and a thick fringe of white dog hair is testament to the authority of the elite class that commissioned it. The breastplates were worn in pairs so that the wearer’s head would appear to rise out of the jaws of a shark—a creature whose fearsome qualities were emulated by chiefs. Currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum New York. Private Collection Gordon Sze


K.J. Hewett

Lord Alistair McAlpine

Warren Anderson

J.B.Hawkins Antiques

Gordon Sze MD


Bishop Museum, Honolulu 1978, Metropolitan Museum, New York 2018/19