Exceptional Maori Digging Stick Step, New Zealand

This lot has been removed from the website, please contact customer services for more information

Lot 24
Exceptional Maori Digging Stick Step, New Zealand

Sold for US$ 38,455 inc. premium
Exceptional Maori Digging Stick Step, New Zealand
teka
height 7 3/4in (19.7cm)

Provenance
Kenneth Athol Webster Collection, London (Collector's mark #159 written twice on the back)
Wayne Heathcote Oceanic Art, London and New York
American Private Collection, acquired in 1993

Published
Barrow, Terrence, Maori Wood Sculpture, The Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc., Japan, 1969, fig. 173

Terrence Barrow notes (Ibid., p. 128), 'Steps of this type are generally known as "foot-rests" and they were lashed at right angles to the lower end of the blade of a digging-stick [ko]. Their purpose was to enable the user to get a better downward thrust into the earth.'

Cf. Starzecka, et.al., The Maori Collections of the British Museum, London, 2010, figs 1246-1250 for similar examples, and figs 1240-1245 of examples still attached to the digging stick (ko).

According to David Simmons (personal communication, October 2015), digging sticks, "ko were used to dig the ground before the planting of kumara (sweet potatoes). The first task in preparing a new garden was to cut down the existing vegetation, leave the remains to dry then burn them. The ash was a rich source of potash which was provided by the MANUKA (Leptosperman species) of which the litter and ash are phosphate rich. The slash and burn system of gardening was used. When the garden is ready, the first thing that must happen is asking the gods like Rongo, god of agriculture, for his goodwill. The permission of Tane, god of forests had been asked when the vegetation was cut down. Now the agriculture god was asked for his goodwill. This was done with a digging step with a ceremonial step lashed on it after prayers. During these invocations a tohunga or expert priest would intone the prayers and ceremonially make the first digs into the garden in which the first sweet potato plants would be placed. The workers would then continue the digging but with plain ko sticks. The ceremonial step teka would then be removed and placed into a special repository until the next use. Such ceremonial steps were highly valued by the people and sometimes if they were used by an acclaimed expert were named. The steps were in the charge of the paramount chief of the tribe or confederation of tribes. An image of stone or other material would be placed in the gardens to remind the god that his help had been invoked; these are often named for the particular tribal god. This is a question of mana and was also invoked by the women bearing chin tattoo being asked to walk through the gardens. Such women are the daughters of the paramount chief whose mana or prestige is thus called on. Overall if the right prayers have been done then the garden will succeed. If it does not, a new god is sought."

Intricately carved as a large non-sexed human figure with domed bulbous head with open mouth revealing upper and lower teeth and notched paua shell eyes, hands on chest, legs bent at the knees in a squatting position; incised rolling spirals decorate the forehead, torso and thighs; rich, honey brown patina with usage.
Contacts
Exceptional Maori Digging Stick Step, New Zealand
Exceptional Maori Digging Stick Step, New Zealand
Exceptional Maori Digging Stick Step, New Zealand
Exceptional Maori Digging Stick Step, New Zealand
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Arms & Armor, Coins and Medals, Motor Cars, Motorcycles, Wine & Whisky

27.5% on the first $12,500 of the hammer price;
25% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of $12,500 up to and including $600,000;
20% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of $600,000 up to and including $6,000,000;
and 14.5% of the hammer price of any amounts in excess of $6,000,000.

Payment Notices

Payment for purchases may be made in or by (a) cash, (b) cashier's check or money order, (c) personal check with approved credit drawn on a U.S. bank, (d) wire transfer or other immediate bank transfer, or (e) Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover credit, charge or debit card. Please note that the amount of cash notes and cash equivalents that can be accepted from a given purchaser may be limited.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

App