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FIGURE OF THE GOD A’A
Considered one of the most emblematic Polynesian sculptures, the statue of the God A'a from the island of Rurutu, is an anthropomorphic figure of god Tangaroa (God creator in Polynesian mythology). (Interpretation of the history may vary)
Made from « pua » wood (according to the ancients of Rurutu), recent research has suggested that it may have been carved as early as the sixteenth century. It stands 117cm high and is 36cm wide. It has a cavity at the back of the body, closed by a removable panel, which was probably originally used as a reliquary for the skull and bones of a sacred ancestor. It has 30 small representations that arise from its body symbolizing abundance and creative power.
When it was first encountered by European missionaries, the cavity contained 24 small god images. The statue was donated in 1821 to the collection of the London Missionary Society in London and was later transferred to the British Museum in 1890.
At that time the people of Rurutu were facing epidemics from introduced European diseases and among the remaining inhabitants, who wished to prove their allegiance to Christianity, a chief decided to go to Raiatea to offer the statue of the God A'a to the missionaries of the London Missionary Society.
In 2015, a tiny red feather was found in the cavity of the statue by Julie Adams, Curator at the British Museum. Red feathers were considered sacred by Polynesians and demonstrate the importance of the statue and its contents. The feather was identified as coming from a rare bird named «Lori de Kuhl», from the island of Rimatara, located about 150 km from Rurutu.
The statue of the God A'a has always fascinated Polynesians and Europeans alike and is regularly requested for display in exhibitions around the world. For the sake of conservation, several copies were made from a mould.
This statue has also intrigued many artists like the very famous Pablo Picasso who owned one of these rare copies. It should be noted that one of the copies appears today in the island of origin of Rurutu. Still today, the statue retains an element of mystery and an undeniable power.
Fare Rata, the post office of Polynesia, in collaboration with the British Museum, have the honor to introduce you to this emblematic figure, the first in a series of philatelic issues highlighting the richness of Polynesian culture.

Find your philatelic circular here
Unit price: 160 FCFP (1,34 €)
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