Am I on a roll lately, or what? February is making up for my lack of posting in January, that's for sure.
At work, we were planning an ad for a local magazine, and were trying to find pieces in the museum's collection to emphasize. One of my favorite options was this one, a Hei Tiki pendant from New Zealand, created by the Maori peoples. It is the most brilliant green (I'd describe it as a cloudy emerald color), and its eyes are made of haliotis (abalone) shell, which really shines. In New Zealand, this shell is called a paūa shell.
Maori peoples, New Zealand
Pendant, Hei Tiki
Nephrite, haliotis shell
H. 9 in. (22.9 cm)
Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection, Indiana University Art Museum
I traveled to New Zealand as a People to People Student Ambassador when I was 13. The trip left an indelible mark on me, and spending time with the Maori was one of the incredible experiences. If you are a parent reading this blog, I must absolutely recommend to you that you allow your child the opportunity to participate in one of these international leadership adventures. It helped me grow as a person and become more aware of the world, instead of just myself.
But back to the art.
Foy Brothers, Thames, Young Maori Woman with Moko Wearing Korowai Cloak and Hei Tiki, c. 1872-86, Albumen carte-de-visite photograph, 10.5 x 6.3 cm. Via.
Most are either sexless, or female. The British Museum writes that the significance of these tiki is unclear, but it has been suggested that they promote fertility or represent one's ancestors. They can be passed down through families through generations, and sometimes are given names. They are worn by both men and women, though I only have pictures of women wearing them to show you today.
This website that I found suggests a connection between these tiki and the Gorgons of Greek mythology. An interesting read!