Hei Tiki

oceania | New Zealand

Hei Tiki

New Zealand

Hei Tiki pendant
Maori

19th century or earlier
Carved greenstone (Pounamu – nephrite)
Height: 10 cm – 4 in.

Provenance
Ex private collection, probably acquired by the late 1950s
Thence by family descent
Ex Sotheby’s New York, Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, lot 76

Hei Tiki pendant 10 cm / Galerie Flak Price on request
This carved Hei Tiki figure is a representation of the primordial ancestor of the Maori people. This pendant is carved in a superb piece of nephrite (pounamu in the Maori language). This greenstone, which is found only on the South Island of New Zealand, was a highly valuable material. It was particularly prized by the Maori for its hardness and its color.
The figure is shown head-on, his head leaning very slightly to the left. 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.
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