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African & Oceanic Art / Superb Maori Anthropomorphic Pendant, New Zealand, ca. 1600 - 1850

Lot 15
Superb Maori Anthropomorphic Pendant, New Zealand, ca. 1600 - 1850
27 April 2022, 10:00 EDT
New York

Sold for US$94,875 inc. premium

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Superb Maori Anthropomorphic Pendant, New Zealand, ca. 1600 - 1850

hei tiki
Nephrite (pounamu), paua shells
Height 5 3/4in (14.6cm)

Armand Fernandez/Arman, New York/Paris/Vence
Roberta and Lance Entwistle, London/Paris
Important Private Collection, acquired from the above in 1993

"The hei tiki is perhaps the best known of all Maori artifacts. 'Hei' meaning hanging, i.e., 'a pendant', and tiki refers to the human image in general. The hei tiki was regarded by the Maori as a memento of a deceased ancestor or a succession of ancestors through whose hands it had passed from generation to generation. Thus hei tiki and other ornaments gained value through contact with the mana of the great ones of the past." (Terrence Barrow, The Decorative Arts of the New Zealand Maori, Charles E. Tuttle Co., Tokyo, 1964, p. 28)

Nephrite pendants, hei tiki, were worn around the neck by high-ranking Maori men and women. "Experiments indicate that a hei tiki could be made in 500 to 1000 hours of work depending on the size" (Barrow, 1964, p. 28).

Finely carved, most likely without the use of metal tools, in lush dark green stone, probably the kawakawa variety, measuring approximately 3/4in (2cm) at its thickest point; the broad, thick shoulders support the head turned left with large paua shell inlaid eyes below large arching brows, flared nostrils and large open mouth revealing teeth; two suspension holes worn through at the top are indicative of its significant age and cultural use.

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