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John Webber
"King of the Friendly Islands" (Tonga); Engraving from Captain Cook's 3rd Voyage

1784

About the Item

"Poulaho, King of the Friendly Islands, Drinking Kava" is an engraving created by William Sharp (1749-1824), from a drawing by John Webber (1752-1793), who was the artist on Captain James Cook's 3rd and final voyage of discovery. It was published in the atlas of "A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean Undertaken by the Command of His Majesty, for Making Discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere", the official British Admirality sanctioned journal published upon completion of the voyage in London in 1784 by Strahan & Cadell. Captain Cook visited Tonga on his 3rd voyage, which he named The Friendly Islands because of the warm welcome he and his crew received, unlike some of the other more hostile Pacific islands. The engraving depicts Cook and his men observed a kava ceremony at the village of Mu’a on Tongatapu. King Paulaho sits in the centre foreground, his back to the spectator with a man kneeling before him. The ceremonial mat depicted behind Paulaho indicates that nobody was allowed to sit behind him. The figure in the centre holds a single cup, referring to the Tongan custom of offering the cup to the king first. Kava is native to the islands of the South Pacific and was first described for English readers in 1768 by Captain James Cook. The kava root has been used for centuries as a central feature of ceremonies and celebrations because it was able to bring about a calming and pleasant social atmosphere. The root was crushed and processed into coconut milk to become the focal ceremonial beverage, simply referred to as kava. This engraving is presented in a Koa wood frame and a white mat. Koa wood is legendary in Hawaii. There are occasional faint spots, but the print is otherwise in very good condition. This amazing Koa wood is native to Hawaii and it is known for the deep rich colors and varied grain pattern. Koa has an honored heritage in Hawaii and is highly revered and sacred. The word “koa” means “warrior” in Hawaiian. The warriors of King Kamehameha the Great, created canoes and weapons from a wood plentiful on the Big Island of Hawaii. This wood became synonymous with the warriors themselves, and it became known as koa. There are three other engravings listed from the official journal of Captain Cook's 3rd voyage available that are presented in identical Koa wood frames and mats (LU117324682422, LU117324684052, LU117324684032). They would make a wonderful grouping for a display of 2, 3 or 4 prints. A discount is available for a grouping depending on the number of items included. Captain Cook is remembered as one of the greatest explorers and navigators in history. His explorations included Australia, New Zealand and islands of the South Pacific and the northwest coast of North America. Hawaii was discovered by Captain Cook during this voyage. Hawaii was originally called The Sandwich Islands in honor of The Earl of Sandwich who, as head of the British Admiralty, authorized the funds necessary to finance the voyage. Captain Cook was killed by natives in Kealakekua Bay on the big island of Hawaii in 1779. His ships the Resolution and Discovery then returned to England. Other notables who were part of this expedition included Captain William Bligh, Cook's sailing master, who would later go down in history as captain of the mutinous crew of the Bounty and George Vancouver who would later explore and chart North America's northwestern Pacific Coast regions, including the coasts of Alaska, Washington, and Oregon, as well as the province of British Columbia in Canada. Vancouver Island and the city of Vancouver, British Columbia are named for him, as is Vancouver, Washington.
  • Creator:
    John Webber (1751 - 1793, British)
  • Creation Year:
    1784
  • Dimensions:
    Height: 18.25 in (46.36 cm)Width: 23.5 in (59.69 cm)Depth: 0.88 in (2.24 cm)
  • Medium:
  • Movement & Style:
  • Period:
    1780-1789
  • Condition:
  • Gallery Location:
    Alamo, CA
  • Reference Number:
    Seller: #38561stDibs: LU117324684062

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