Internal View of a Morai, or Burial place by Webber, 1817
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Internal View of a Morai, or Burial place by Webber, 1817

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Internal view of a Morai, or Burial Place, in Atooi, one of the Sandwich Islands by John Webber, engraved by J. G. Wooding, 1817.

A marae (a.k.a. morai in the Cook Islands) is a sacred place that serves an important purpose in Polynesian religion and social activities. It is typically a rectangular plot of cleared land, bordered by stones or wooden posts. Some marae had an ahu, or central stone. This was often covered by a thatched roof and sat adjacent to the marae. It was the site of many ceremonies, the most important of which is tangihanga, the farewelling of the dead. The marae is still a key part of many Polynesian societies, most notably the Maori of New Zealand. 

Captain James Cook was the first European to discover Hawaii during his third Pacific voyage (1776-1780). He named the archipelago the Sandwich Islands after his patron John Montagu, Fourth Earl of Sandwich. The purpose of the trip was to continue the search for a northwest passage. Cook set out on the HMS Resolution accompanied by the HMS Discovery. After Cook was killed at Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii, in 1779, Captain Charles Clerke, on the Discovery, commanded the rest of the expedition. The island of Atooi is modern day Kauai and is one of the eight main islands comprising the state of Hawaii. 

John Webber (1751-1793) was an English artist who became renowned for his work done while on the HMS Resolution. He was recommended by Daniel Solander, botanist from Cook's first voyage, to serve as the official artist on the third trip to the pacific. The son of a Swiss sculptor, he studied at first in Switzerland and then at the Academie Royale, in Paris. In 1775, he began studying at Royal Academy and his preference for landscapes brought him to Solander's attention. His collection of drawings and watercolors forms the most complete visual record of any of Cook's voyages. Upon returning to England he exhibited fifty works at the Royal Academy from 1784 to 1792. Webber was made an associate of the academy in 1785 and a full member in 1791.

This print was published in George Alexander Cooke's A Modern and Authentic System of Universal Geography, 1817. The work consisted of two volumes containing a total of twenty-four extending maps and forty-three full page engravings. The title is often shortened to Cooke's Geography.

- Naomi Bean

Plate size: 4.75" x 7"
Sheet size: 8.25" x 10.25"
Condition: Excellent.

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