Maori Greenstone Amulet, New Zealand
height 3 5/8in (9.3cm)
hei tiki, exquisitely carved, most likely without the use of metal tools, with the head uncommonly turning to the proper left, the eyes inlaid with paua (Haliotis iris) shell, a delicately carved heart-shaped mouth and forehead, the hands resting on the legs with incised fingers, the suspension hole on the back worn through.
Alfred Watson, Christchurch
William Wastson, Brighton, Victoria
James Watson, Melbourne
Peter Mcguigan, Melbourne
Mark and Carolyn Blackburn, Hawaii
Kaeppler, Adrienne, The Mark and Carolyn Blackburn Collection of Polynesian Art, 2010, fig. 458
Hei tiki were highly valued personal adornments of the Maori, often being given personal names and handed down through generations as heirlooms. While most hei tiki are carved with the head turning to the right, the present example has the head turning to the proper left, making it considerably more rare. The wear on the back and the suspension hole entirely worn through indicates significant age and use and a date of manufacture from the 18th century or earlier.