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Marquesan Stilt Step

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RTCFA No. OC 0048
Marquesan Stilt Step
Artist: Unknown
Wood, 15.25 x 2.75 x 4.25 in. (38.7 x 6.9 x 10.7 cm).

Geographic Location: Central Polynesia
Region: Polynesia
Group / Tribe: Marquesan

Description: This figure is part of a Marquesan stilt, which consists of a long pole between five and seven feet long with a step tied to it, which were made and to be used in pairs. Stilt games in the Marquesas Islands were a venue for races and competitions. These games were not only entertaining, but were seen as sacred. The gods would be watching and many believed that the competitions demonstrated the “mana” of the participants. Stilt competitions were practiced throughout Polynesia, but these steps became an art form only with the Marquesans. While little is known about how and when Coe collected this component of a larger piece it does nonetheless provide us with some insight into the details he saw and appreciated in all items.