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Build your guide

Select your chapters, build your own digital guide to Oceania: Early encounters, and then download or email it.

Start now

Creative encounters

Contact between Pacific peoples and Europeans increased dramatically in the mid 1800s, as European settlement of Oceania expanded. With more interaction came tremendous change, in the arts as much as other realms.

Pacific peoples experimented with new ideas, materials, and technologies, as they had done throughout their long history in the region. They took customary art practices, including carving and weaving, in fresh directions, often creating new hybrid forms.

Over time, European settlers felt more at home in their new island environment. European artisans, like their Pacific counterparts, took on indigenous ideas and materials, though sometimes with little regard for cultural protocols or meanings.

In this chapter:

  • Kumete (carved lidded presentation bowl)
    Carving out change

    New tools and materials facilitated new forms in carving.

  • Titi (dance skirt)
    Common threads

    Clothing and textiles were another aspect of culture in which materials and forms were dynamically exchanged.

  • Newspaper
    Island flavour

    European artisans began to experiment with indigenous elements.