The first a small oblong 8vo, the second 8vo. Light soiling to the first, both with contemporary translations from the Polynesian into French in pencil beneath the letters. Item #404254
Two letters from Queen Pomare sent in 1855 and 1856, respectively, from Papeete, French Polynesia.
“Raita hello to you. Prepare some bread for Oriiane in the form of small cakes. That is all.
Captain of Ortielerie (?) [sic], hello to you.
The queen and her husband ask you and Madame to come to dine tonight at our house at five o’clock in the evening.”
Pomare the Fourth was the Queen of Tahiti from 1827 until her death in 1877. The first letter is likely addressed to her maid or servant. Pomare fought against French intervention in Tahiti in 1843, but ultimately came to rule under the French protectorate following the French-Tahitian War of 1843-47. French naval officials were installed in Pape’ete, Tahiti’s capital; there was a high level of Polynesian overseas trade in the 1850s. It is likely that the second letter is a communication between Pomare and a foreign ship captain. Pomare had instituted a code of law to manage the “disease, drunkenness, and disorder” that came with foreign ship captains. Although captains found Pomare to be “demanding,” they were nonetheless “required to pay her homage” and defer to her authority (Karen Stevenson, “Extraordinary Polynesian Women: Writing Their Stories,” The Journal of the Polynesian Society, 2014, pp. 130).