Title: Canoe Sternpost (tau-rapa)
Date: probably early to mid-19th century
Culture: Māori
Medium: wood
22 1/4 x 56 1/2 in. (56.5 x 143.5 cm)
Credit Line: Bequest of Morton D. May
Object Number: 1531:1983
Place of origin: probably North Island, New Zealand (Aotearoa)
Current Location: On View, Gallery 106
This canoe sternpost displays an abstract human figure called a "manaia." Central to this composition are the two ribs that form the backbone and terminate at the head of the "manaia" near the top of the sternpost. An arm and hand reach over a spiral to touch the back of one of the ribs. A second "manaia" on the lower part of the sternpost can be seen just in front.

The great carved and decorated war canoes ("waka taua") of the early 19th century were a major source of interest and pride for the men who crewed on them. Fleets of more than sixty canoes were recorded; and canoes could be as long as eighty feet and carry one hundred men.
1929 - 1977
James Thomas Hooper (1897-1971), England, acquired in Arbroath, Scotland; Estate of James Thomas Hooper [1]

1977 - 1983
Morton D. May (1914-1983), St. Louis, MO, USA, purchased at auction of “Hawaiian and Maori Art from the James Hooper Collection,” Christie, Manson and Woods, London, June 21, 1977, lot no. 121 [2]

1983 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, bequest of Morton D. May [3]

[1] This object was No. 41 in the Hooper Collection [Phelps, Steven. Art and Artefacts of the Pacific, Africa and the Americas: The James Hooper Collection. London: Hutchinson and Company, 1976]. The corresponding description identified that Hooper acquired this object in Arbroath, Scotland in 1929. It was included in the 1977 auction of the Hooper Collection [“Hawaiian and Maori Art from the James Hooper Collection,” Christie, Manson and Woods, London, June 21, 1977, lot no. 21]. In an email dated February 22, 2012 from Steven Hooper to Amy Clark of the Saint Louis Art Museum, Hooper stated “after my grandfather died in 1971 the entire collection belonged to his estate, “The Estate of James Thomas Hooper,” until items were sold at the series of auctions.” [copy of email in SLAM document files].

[2] See Note [1]. An invoice dated June 21, 1977 from Christie, Manson and Woods to Morton D. May documents the purchase of this object [May Archives, Saint Louis Art Museum].

[3] Last Will and Testament of M. D. May dated June 11, 1982 [copy, May Archives, Saint Louis Art Museum]. Minutes of the Acquisitions and Loans Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, September 20, 1983.

Publication History
Title: The Art of Primitive Peoples
Author: James Thomas Hooper
Author: Cottie Arthur Burland
Title: Art and Artefacts of the Pacific, Africa, and the Americas - The James Hooper Collection
Author: Steven Hooper
Title: Polynesian Art at Auction 1965 - 1980 (Tribal Art at Auction Vol. 1)
Year Published: 1982
Title: Hawaiian and Maori Art from the James Hooper Collection
Edition: June 21
Year Published: 1977
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