19th-Century New Caledonian Kanak Finials
They are something I inherited from my aunt, who was born and raised in France. She had gotten them from her father, who was in service to France during World War I. After the war, he went to New Caledonia to work on a coffee plantation and came back with these. My aunt brought them to this country after World War II.
When she came to marry my uncle. She had them hanging in my uncle's den in their home.
Well, they are from New Caledonia. The people who live in New Caledonia-- which is in Melanesia-- are called the Kanak people. These are called flËche faÓtiËre. These are the finials that would go on top of the clan houses, and they embodied the spirits of the ancestors of the clan. They're made out of houpwood, H-O-U-P, houpwood. This is the face of the ancestor that you have here, and he's sitting on top of this area here, which is the voice of the ancestor, which would usually be covered by conch shells. And so that was the way the ancestor would communicate with the chief. When the chief would die, they would cut them down and they would then give them to the family. They're 19th century and they've got traces of polychrome on them. One is a little bit more striking than the other.
I think that this one, conservatively, an auction price would be probably between $10,000 and $12,000. And I think this one would probably be about $12,000 to $15,000.
Now, in a gallery situation, they would be mounted and all the rest of it, and I wouldn't think it would be out of the question for them to be probably $18,000 to $25,000 each.
Oh, my goodness!
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