A Tongan dance, probably on 21 June 1777

Done during or shortly after Captain James Cook's third voyage to the Pacific in the 'Resolution' and 'Discovery', 1776-80: if not drawn on the voyage, it is fairly clearly a rough study for something either not worked up further or now lost: since there is no other known version it may have been an idea for an illustration in the 1784 voyage account, but one not carried forward. A large crowd of spectators sit in a semi-circle watching groups of dancers with a circle of musicians in the central foreground. In his journal Cook wrote of a dance on Tonga to which he was invited on 21 June 1777 and of the 'yam posts' seen at rear centre. He describes how these consisted of two sets of four tall poles set in about a 2 x 2 ft square: the space between was filled up with yams and the posts stopped from splaying out under the weight by cross-pieces about every four feet, until the column was over 30 feet high. See Joppien and Smith, 'The Art of Captain Cook's Voyages', vol.III, 3.56. [PvdM 1/18]

Mounted in Album PAJ2143, with PAJ2145 - PAJ2206.

Object Details

ID: PAJ2206
Type: Drawing
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Webber, John
Date made: c. 1774; circa 1777-80
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Sheet: 493 x 316 mm
Parts: Plates of Cook's Voyages - Voyage 1 (Album)

Your Request

If an item is shown as “offsite”, please allow eight days for your order to be processed. For further information, please contact Archive staff:

Tel: (during Library opening hours)

Click “Continue” below to continue processing your order with the Library team.