4071

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Maori Greenstone Double-sided Hei-Tiki Pendant

Maori People, New Zealand
early 20th century

height: 5.2cm, width: 3.2cm, weight: 11.9g

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Provenance

UK art market

Hei-tiki pendants (‘tiki’ refers to the image and ‘hei’ means to suspend from the neck) carved in local greenstone (nephrite) are among the most iconic of Maori arts. Dating them is difficult but this example, which was acquired in the UK, probably dates to the early 20th century. It is small and pierced at the top of the head to allow it to be suspended.

Unusually, this example is carved with faces on both sides. The eyes have been highlighted with red sealing wax.

Tiki prendants were worn by the Maoris for largely decorative reasons. Their origins might lay in ancestor worship or fertility rites but by the time of white settlement they were already largely decorative than connected to ritual.

It is in fine condition and is very wearable.

References

Starzecka, D. C., R. Neich & M. Pendergrast, The Maori Collections of the British Museum, British Museum Press, 2010.

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