Lot n° 11
8000 - 10000
Result with fees
: 15 600EUR
Pendentif Hei TIki Maori, Nouvelle-Zélande
Hei TIki Pendant
Maori, New Zealand 19th century or earlier
Carved stone (pounamu nephrite)
H. 7 cm
- William Oldman Collection (1879-1949), London
- Harry G. Collection. Beasley Collection (1881-1939), London
- John Hewett Collection (1919-1994), London
- James Economos Collection (1939-2019), Santa Fe
- Judy Nash Collection, New York
- Bonhams New York, November 9, 2011, lot 13
- Private collection, acquired at the above sale
This hei tiki pendant with a remarkable pedigree is a representation of the original ancestor of the Maori people. It is carved from nephrite jade (pounamu in the Maori language). This sacred stone, found only on the South Island of New Zealand, was a prestigious material particularly prized by the Maori because of its hardness and color.
According to Roger Neich, "the jade ornament called hei tiki, worn on the chest, is the most characteristic and valued of all Maori personal ornaments. In some origin myths, Tiki was the first man, created by the god Tane. Therefore, all anthropomorphic carvings made of bone, stone or wood can be called tiki.
The prefix hei indicates that it is an item that hangs from the neck. The hei tiki can be worn by both men and women, usually vertically but sometimes hanging horizontally by a point on the side, especially for women. These ornaments were passed down from generation to generation as a family heirloom, and at funerals they were displayed near the deceased with other family treasures. Each hei tiki had its own name and the memory of this name was preserved in songs and myths passed down orally within the clan.
The mana, power and prestige attached to each hei tiki came from its close contact with the great ancestors who had worn it in the past." (quoted in Pounamu: Maori Jade of New Zealand, David Bateman Ltd., Auckland, 1997, pages 23-25).
The figure is seen from the front, head bent to his right, sticking out his tongue, a symbol of warrior power in Maori art.
Although the left arm and lower limbs are now missing from the sculpture presented here, the spirit of this tiki remains intensely present.
Note the superb variations in the hues of the stone and the delicacy of the carving.
The deep patina, the marks of wear and tear, especially around the fixing hole, testify to prolonged use, generation after generation. The style and the reduced proportions also corroborate the hypothesis of a very great antiquity for this hei tiki.
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