War Canoe, Vella Lavella


This photograph shows warriors alongside their war canoes on the beach at Vella Lavella, one of the Solomon Islands. The photograph was taken by Edward A. Salisbury (1875-1962), an American explorer, writer, and early producer of travel films who in the 1920s published many accounts of his expeditions to the South Pacific in Asia: The American Magazine of the Orient. Salisbury’s article, “A Napoleon of the Solomons,” which appeared in the September 1922 issue of Asia, was a portrait of Gau, the warrior king of Vella Lavella. Salisbury described the war canoes as “magnificent pieces of workmanship, 35 to 50 feet long, holding from 40 to 100 men, and though without outriggers, seaworthy…. The sides of the canoes were beautifully inlaid with pearl shells in fantastic designs. At both stem and stern were twelve-foot beaks decorated with conch-shells.”

Last updated: January 2, 2013