CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

About History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed


Tabu and Mana and Their Interpretation from Cook and Hodges to Adams and Lafarge​

Session 8 Art and Taboo


Polynesians interpreted their world and organized their social lives through the underlying principles and concepts of mana and tapu, intertwined with ideas of rank based on descent from gods. Mana is a supernatural power linked with genealogical rank, fertility, and protocol; it was protected by restrictions known as tapu. According to these principles, each Polynesian society developed distinctive hierarchical traditions tied to sacred rituals in which special objects or works of art were used. Hereditary chiefs (ariki, ali`i), sea experts (tautai), craftsmen (tufunga), and warriors (toa), became important societal statuses. Sacred places (malae, marae, and heiau) with rituals based on the drinking of kava (an infusion of the root of Piper methysticum, a tropical pepper) were characteristic, but developed differently in each area as the ancestral culture diversified. My paper will explore the concepts of mana and tabu as Polynesian cultural ideas and how the adopted concept of tapu was interpreted and reinterpreted by the West. Along the way I will look at Polynesian objects associated with tapu and divinity and how they were depicted during Cook’s voyages and a century later by John LaFarge.



KAEPPLER, Adrinne 


University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee l956-l958 (Major, English Literature)

Wisconsin Conservatory of Music l954-l958 (Major, Voice)

University of Hawai`i l958-l959, B.A. Anthropology

University of Hawai`i l959-l961, M.A. Anthropology

University of Hawai`i l962-l967, Ph.D. Anthropology

Sigma Xi - (Honorary Society - Science)

Phi Beta Kappa (Honorary Society - Liberal Arts)

Alpha Delta Kappa (Honorary Society - Education)



Curator of Oceanic Ethnology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, January 1984 - present

Associate Curator, July 1980 - December 1983.

Chair, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, March l985 - May 1988

Visiting Professor, School of Art and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India, February 2009.

Visiting Professor, Graduate Seminar,  Department of Music/Ethnomusicology, University of Maryland, College Park, Spring Semester 1988; Spring Semester 1997, Spring Semester 2002.

Visiting Professor, Department of Art History, UCLA - Winter Term 1990

Visiting Professor for Team-taught Seminar, Departments of Anthropology and Art History, Johns Hopkins University, Fall Semester 1989

Part-time Lecturer, Department of Social Anthropology, The Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, 1982 - 1987

Part time Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Hawai`i, l967-l969

Affiliate Graduate Faculty, University of Hawai`i, l967 - 1980.

Instructor in Anthropology, University of Hawai`i, Spring Semester l965

Instructor in Anthropology, College of General Studies, University of Hawai`i, l964-l965

Graduate assistant, Department of Anthropology, University of Hawai`i, Summer Session l96l

Lecturer, Departments of Music and Theatre/Dance, University of Hawai`i, l968-1980

Honorary Associate, Bernice P. Bishop Museum, Honolulu, July l980 - present

Anthropologist, Bernice P. Bishop Museum, June l967 - July l980

Fellow in Anthropology, Bernice P. Bishop Museum, l965 - l967

Research Analyst, Bernice P. Bishop Museum, l962 - l965

Assistant in Anthropology, Bernice P. Bishop Museum, l96l-l962

Area Studies Coordinator - Peace Corps, Tonga II, October - December l967, Moloka`i, Hawai`i