Large Hei Tiki pendant
Carved greenstone (Pounamu – nephrite)
19th century or earlier
Height: 5 ¼ in. (13.5 cm)
Possibly acquired from Ernest Learning, Auckland circa 1932
Ex collection William Engs Dennis, Rhode Island
Ex Sotheby’s New York May 2005 lot 2
Ex collection Wayne Heathcote
Published: John Giltsoff 2009
The figure is shown head-on, his head leaning to the left. He is sticking his tongue out, a symbol of power for Maori warriors. The facial features (nose, mouth, eyes) are finely and deeply carved.
Hei Tiki pendants were worn around the neck on a narrow cord of woven fibers. These prestige ornaments were passed on from generation to generation.
Hei Tiki pendants were said to bring the protection of the clan ancestors to the wearer, and served as a statement of the clan’s affiliation, going back to Tiki, the mythical warrior.