A prestigious Maori pendant

15 April 2020

These precious Maori “hei tiki” pendants from New Zealand (1500-1800 AD) in nephrite, in which the “mana” (emanation of the spiritual power of the group) of their previous holders accumulated, were passed on through inheritance. Emblems of the aristocracy, they were ornaments reflecting the wealth of their owners and conferring prestige. In the 19th century, the arrival of metal tools, obtained by exchange from Europeans, meant that some nephrite axe blades were converted into pendants.

Hei-tiki. Polynesia. New Zealand. Maori. 18th-19th century . Jade (nephrite). H. 10.2 cm.
Te Puawaitanga period (1500–1800). Inv. 5107-E.
Photo Studio Ferrazzini Bouchet. Musée Barbier-Mueller.