Tackle Box, Tuvalu, Micronesia, Early 20th Century

Early 20th Century
wood, pearl shell inlay
71 x 22 cm

Tackle Boxes in Tokela, called Tuluma, are traditionally highly valued. At a functional level, these oval-shaped boxes were carved from the wood of variegated brown and yellow timber, Cordia subcokdata. They have a tight fitting lid, and once tied with the sennet rope, are water-tight. Fishing tackle, traditionally laboriously made of shell or harwood, was tied inside the box on ocean-going trips so that if the canoe capsized, the box would float, and the tackle safe. Most Tuluma are palin wood; but occasionally they are decorated with pearl shell motifs, invariably simple triangles or diamonds. These tackle boxes seem to have become even more special, and took on a similar role to the Maru Treasure Box, as a container for heirlooms. The Tokelau national coat of arms features a Tuluma. ( see image )


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