Reference Entry

Chatham Islands

Foss Leach

in Oxford Art Online


Published online January 2003 | e-ISBN: 9781884446054 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T016163

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Group of now largely uninhabited volcanic Polynesian islands in the Pacific Ocean lying c. 700 km south-east of Wellington, New Zealand. Their total area is c. 965 sq. km. Politically, the islands are part of New Zealand. Until 1835 the islands were occupied by a community known as Moriori, whose surviving art is discussed here. Although their precise origin is unknown, they were a Polynesian people and spoke an East Polynesian language resembling that of the Maori. In 1835 a group of c. 900 Maori invaded and killed many of the inhabitants (c. 2000), enslaving the remainder: the last Moriori died in 1933 (King, pp. 13–16). Our knowledge of Moriori arts is fragmentary, being based on scant historical records and the few remnants of material culture, including surviving archaeological specimens.

The Moriori carved petroglyphs on the interior surfaces of a number of soft limestone caves along the shores of Te Whanga Lagoon and ...

Reference Entry.  679 words. 

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art

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