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Glossary for AP Content Area 9: The Pacific

by Smarthistory
A glossary of basic terminology that is often used in discussions about art of the Pacific.
‘ahu’ulaliterally, "red garments," these are cloaks and capes worn by Hawaiian male nobility
Feather cape, probably before 1850 C.E., Hawaii
ahustone platform, such as those found associated with moai on Easter Island
atollan atoll is a ring-shaped coral reef including a coral rim that encircles a lagoon partially or completely
bark clothsometimes called tapa, barkcloth is found throughout the Pacific (although in some places today it has almost disappeared). It has different local names as well, such as kapa in Hawai'i and siapo in Samoa. It is made from the bark of the dye-fid or paper mulberry tree, and can be decorated with patterns. It has been used in a number of different ways, including as clothing or to wrap sacred objects (such as "god staffs" in the Cook Islands).
basalta type of volcanic stone
Buka type of mask
Mask (Buk), Torres Strait, Mabuiag Island, mid to late 19th century
Captain Cookfirst European person to the South Pacific islands in the late 1700s
hiapoearly Niuean bark cloth (see bark cloth above too)
i’iwi birdred feathered bird; feathers used for Hawaiian ceremonial feather cloaks
Kava ceremonykava is a type of tee that comes from the Kava root. The drink is sipped by community members in order of their rank in the Fijian community.
Lapita Peoplefirst inhabitants of Polynesia who share roots with Australian natives
Malanganrefers to one or more intricate carvings from the island of New Ireland in Papua New Guinea. These carvings may take the form of a mask, a wooden board or “frieze,” a sturdy house pole, a circular, woven mat, or a scaled model of a dugout canoe with or without human figures inside
Funerary Carving (Malagan), late 19th–early 20th century, Papua New Guinea, New Ireland
Nan-MaldolOnce the political and ceremonial center for the ruling chiefs of the Sau Deleur dynasty (c. 1100–1628), Nan Madol is a complex of close to 100 artificial rectilinear islets spread over 200 acres that are thought to have housed up to 1000 people.
Māoripeoples native to New Zealand
mattangnavigation charts used to train future navigators among peoples of the Pacific Islands. Such charts depict general information about swell movements around one or more small islands.
Navigation chart (mattang), probably 19th or early 20th century C.E., Marshall Islands, Micronesia
meddo or rebbelibNavigation chart used for memory not directions; often cover either a large section or all of the Marshall Islands. Other charts show a smaller area.
Melanesiarefers to a region of the western Pacific that includes the islands and island groups of Fiji, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu
MicronesiaA region of the Pacific Islands that includes more than 2,100 islands, including the Marshall Islands, Guam, and Kiribati
Moaistone statues built by the first people who came to Easter Island and embody the ancestors who first came. Many are toppled today.
Moai of Rapa Nui (Easter Island)
mokoan intricate facial tattoo among the Māori
New Irelanda small island of the southwestern Pacific, just south of the equator; part of Papua New Guinea
Polynesian Trianglestretches from Hawai'i in the north to Aotearoa (New Zealand) in the south, and Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in the east
Rapa Nuioriginal name of Easter Island
totema natural object or animal that is believed by a particular society to have spiritual significance and that is adopted by it as an emblem
tapacloth made of bark usually put together by women and worn or hung for special occasions
Masi (tapa cloth), likely used as a room divider, Fiji
tino aitustones, pieces of wood or wooden figurines that represent local deities in Nukuoro
taonga tuku ihotreasures passed down from Māori ancestors, which are treated with great care and reverence
Torres Straita strait between Australia and New Guinea, and which includes more than 270 islands now known as the Torres Strait Islands
Tridacna shell bladesa genus of large saltwater clams, sometimes used as blades in tools
wharenuithe central building of the Māori community center
* Thank you to Zoe Joyner for her help preparing this glossary.

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