5973

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Maori Curved Nephrite Ear Ornament (Kapeu)

Maori People, New Zealand
early 20th century

length: 15.2cm, weight: 38.19g

Available - Enquire

Provenance

UK art market

This long pendant is known as a kapeu and was worn by a Maori man from the ear.

It has a long, straight form, with a curved lower tip. A hole has been drilled (from both sides) to the top to allow suspension.

The pendant is carved in local greenstone (nephrite, known by the Maoris as pounamu). The stone has a lovely varying colour with natural mottling and inclusions.

Such pendants were indicators of wealth and status.

Earlier examples are illustrated in Austin (2017, p. 144), and Starzecka et al (2010, plate 75).

The example here is stable and very wearable. It has light wear consistent with an early 20th century dating (but not earlier). Originally intended as an ear pendant, today, the item will be best worn from the neck.

See an example of similar form but with earlier provenance in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

References

Austin, D., La Pierre Sacree des Maori, Musee du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac, 2017.

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

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