Maori Staff - New Zealand

Unusually designed for a Maori piece, this intriguing staff shows an almost entirely straight, rectilinear structure, varied only by a slightly projecting pair of panels in its lower half. The four faces of the staff are carved with repeating wave motifs, while ancestor figures occupy the panels. Near the bottom of the staff a small piece of ivory or bone resembling an abstract face or maskette has been embedded. An old label is still attached, reading “Aune Nouvelle Zelande.” An aune is an old French measure of length, but it is unlikely that this staff was used as a Maori measuring device. More plausibly it was a tokotoko, or ceremonial walking stick. In the precinct of a marae (village meeting ground), it would signify a speaker’s authority and status.

 

19th century
34” h
Wood, bone
Provenance: Galerie Pablo Touchaleaume
#537
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