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Sacred objects to go on display at Royal Academy

A visitor looks at two examples of Akua Hulu Manu, feathered god images, during a press view for Oceania at the Royal Academy (Jonathan Brady/PA)
A visitor looks at two examples of Akua Hulu Manu, feathered god images, during a press view for Oceania at the Royal Academy (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Sacred objects are going on display at the Royal Academy’s Oceania exhibition having been privately blessed by indigenous communities.

The new exhibition coincides with the 250th anniversary of Captain James Cook’s first voyage on HMS Endeavour.

Celebrating the art of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, and encompassing the Pacific region from New Guinea to Easter Island, Hawaii to New Zealand, the show is the UK’s first major survey of Oceanic art.

A visitor looks at a headdress created by the Roro people of Yule Island, Papua New Guinea at Oceania at the Royal Academy
A visitor looks at a headdress created by the Roro people of Yule Island, Papua New Guinea (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The exhibition, in London, will open its doors after indigenous communities privately blessed the sacred objects in the exhibition.

The show marks the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy, founded in 1768, the same year Captain Cook set sail on his first expedition to the Pacific on the Endeavour.

Some objects featured in the exhibition were stolen from island tribes during the colonial period, while others were gifted.

Highlights of the show will include an 18th Century feather god image, canoe paddles collected during the first voyage of Captain Cook and a giant ceremonial food bowl which experts believe may have been used for cannibalistic purposes.

Ceremonial Feast Bowl
Ceremonial Feast Bowl (Trustees of the British Museum)

Later, the Duchess of Sussex will carry out her first solo royal engagement when she visits the exhibition

Meghan and Harry are due to tour Australia, Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand in October and the duchess will be shown art from the four countries during her viewing.

Oceania, at the Royal Academy Of Arts in London, runs from September 29 to December 10.

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