John Webber (After), William Sharp (Engraver)

Poulaho, King of the Friendly Islands, drinking Kava

Poulaho, King of the Friendly Islands, drinking Kava by John Webber, William Sharp

Artwork Detail

Cook and his men observed a kava ceremony at the village of Mu’a on Tongatapu. Paulaho sits in the centre foreground, his back to the spectator with a man kneeling before him. The ceremonial matt depicted behind Paulaho indicates that nobody was allowed to sit behind him. The figure in the centre middleground holds a single cup, referring to the Tongan custom of offering the cup to the king first.

Webber and his contemporaries recorded few interior scenes in the Pacific; consequently, the depiction of the fale and its internal construction in this engraving is of great interest.

(See J&S Vol. III, Text pp.37-8, Cat. 3.55-3.55A)

Poulaho, King of the Friendly Islands, drinking Kava
John Webber, William Sharp
Production date
engraving on paper
269 x 413 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2007
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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