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Maori Carving - Whakairo (possible antique)

Size: 23.5cm by 16cm by 9cm

This is very old work between 50 years and 200 years old (in my opinion as a collector of 45 years). I purchased it in 2008 in Dunedin. It was buried in the back of a old style traditional junk shop. So who knows its history.

I have done extensive research but can't find anything remotely comparable or its iwi or hapu origins. I have not explored Moriori as there is little to compare too. Your comments in identification are invited and welcome.

Kiwibone comments: "Kia ora,well the carving around the eyes and mouth are far too sharp for stone or.This mean's it was carved by steel tool's. it has been carved by a novice with some Moriori tree carving influence.To me it look's like something from around the 1960's or 1970's but it's not very old. PS,this colour is from the kiwi shoe polish used to give it a aged look".

Metal chisels have been around since the 19th century. The following is worth a read re aging of work From the Journal of Polynesian Society, Volume 55 1946 > Volume 55, No. 2 > An experiment with primitive Maori carving tools, by J. M. McEwen, p 111-116 available on the internet

It is definitely a debatable piece of art. The workmanship to me suggests primitive tools, the aged patina also suggest its very old but as pointed out may be boot polish. As well as there is nothing around that is comparable. The Maori have been using tools fashioned from ships metal since post Cooks era. And boot polish or dubbin mixed with soot since the 19th century.

Provenance Test: I would suggest either Te Papa or Auckland Museum or one of the quality auction houses dealing in Maori artefacts. My gut feel is that it is old and possibly Moriori given I found it in Dunedin which has historic trading connections with the Chathams.

I am downsizing my extensive art, mask and tribal collections.

Please see my other listings

See my other listings and also my partner's "grace891" for less expensive paintings and prints. Please click here to ask a question
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  • Seller location: Waihi, Waikato, NZ

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