Canoe Splashboard (lagim)

Trobriands-Massim Area
20th century, 1950–2000
Artist unknown, Pacific Islander, Artist Unidentified, Pacific Islander

Object Place: Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea


Overall: 77 x 69.2 x 7 cm (30 5/16 x 27 1/4 x 2 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood, lime

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art



Canoe splashboards from the Massim area are among the iconic works from the Pacific, not only because of their distinctive visual qualities, but also because the canoes were used in the long-distance gift-exchange expeditions known as the kula cycle. Anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski examined these rituals, which regulated the ceremonial life of the Trobriand islanders of Milne Bay Province, in his 1920 classic, Argonauts of the Western Pacific. Aware of Malinowski’s writings, many collectors since the 1920s have cherished kula-related objects.


1974, sold by Island Carvings, Lae, Papua New Guinea, to Geneviève McMillan (b. 1922 - d. 2008), Cambridge, MA; 2008, to the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation, Cambridge; 2009, gift of the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 17, 2009)

Credit Line

Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart