Santa Cruz Nose & Ear Ornaments

Santa Cruz Nose & Ear Ornaments

A rare set of early miniature ear and nose ornaments carved from left to right as twin fishes, a stylized fish and a split disc or telengi usually worn in the nose.

Provenance: Major Joy or also known as RB Joy was a military / Naval officer related to the Melanesian Mission who collected a substantial number of artefacts notably in the Solomon Islands as well as Santa Ceru Islands. Much of his holdings are in the British Museum.

Harry Geoffry Beasley, a collector and dealer of tribal curiosities, acquired a large group of pieces from Major Joy on May 1st, 1938 including the present ornaments. Beasley, founder of the Cranmore Ethnographical Museum, Chislehurst, Kent, made his first acquisition of a lime-spatula at the age of 11 and continued collecting and studying ethnographical art until his death in 1939. Over the years he built up a private collection that was probably the finest in Britain. He achieved this by exchange with Institutions and other collectors throughout the World and by purchase mainly from Missionary Societies, soldiers and Auction Houses. Although much travelled, he never visited the countries whose primitive art so fascinated him. His collection included such famous pieces as the early 19th century Hawaiian feather Cloaks (now Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford and British Museum, London) ; the Benin armorial Cup and American Totem Pole (now British Museum) ; Captain Cook's feather Cape (now Edinburgh Museum). During his lifetime H. G. Beasley was in correspondence with museums and collectors throughout the World, the results of which can be seen in his published articles and his standard work on South Seas Fish Hooks published in 1928. Apart from his main interests in the South Seas and North-West Coast of America he was a pioneer collector of Tibetan and Himalayan Art. His African interests were confined principally to Benin. After his death in 1939 many items were presented to four National British Museums. Other pieces were sold by his widow and after her death in 1974 by their daughters.

Most of his pieces are labelled and bear Mr Beasley's register number. These numbers can be related to their acquisition date as follows:
1 to 91 are prior to 1905; 92 to 444 1905 - 1909; 445 to 1107 1910 - 1919; 1108 to 1529 1920 - 1924; 2277 to 2955 1925 - 1931; 2956 to 3362 1932 - 1933; 3363 to 3990 1934 - 1935; 3991 to 4113 1936 - 1939; and 1530 to 2276 1925 - 1928.
The above numbers relate only to American and Oceanic Art.

Leo and Lillian Fortess were renowned collectors from Kanehoe Bay in Hawaii. They arrived in Hawaii in 1941 on the 76-foot schooner Chance, with two other couples sailing from New York to Hawaii via the Panama Canal. They began collecting Polynesian artifacts as the Chance passed through the Marquesas Islands and Tahiti in 1940 through 1941, an interest that they maintained throughout the rest of their lives. Leo Fortess served as one of the few non-academic presidents of the Anthropological Society of Hawaii and was a life member of the Bishop Museum and Honolulu Academy of the Arts.

Santa Cruz Islands, Solomon Islands, Para-Polynesia. Turtle shell and a pink unidentified material as the ring for the telengi (possible early plastic). Dimensions left to right 3,5 cm ; 3,5 cm ; 2,5 cm. card 11,3 x 5,6 cm. 19/20th century. The ornaments are attached to the card with old string (one missing of the left one and the right one is replaced with nylon fishing line). Labels on reverse of card are Beasley collection: Santa Cruz; 4621; 1-5-38 and FORTESS Collection, 1894. Ex collection Major R.B. Joy, 23 Lhassa Rd. Eltham, S.E. London; Ex Harry Beasley; Ex Fortess Collection.