Oceanic material culture


Even more than African art, Oceanic art is largely unrecognised by the general public.

Oceania is located at Europe’s antipodes and is made up of many islands and archipelagos. The most well known are New Zealand and Tahiti, but there are a myriad of other islands such as Vanuatu, the Marshall Islands, Tami etc.

In contrast to commonplace idea, conditions on these islands are very difficult and the available working materials are very scarce. This has given rise to an art and to objects that vary widely according to the regions: sometimes very simple (Micronesian art), sometimes very colourful (Melanesian art) or very careful in its style (Māori art). These objects have religious, ritual or simply practical reasons, especially when they are used as everyday life objects.

The arrival of Europeans in the 16th century turned indigenous life upside down and also transformed material culture. They brought metalworking with them, and this led to a different style in arts and crafts. European influences also began to appear in Oceanic art (pattern etc.)

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