Object photography

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Object description

  • Maori artist
  • Hei-tiki (pendant), 1800-1807
  • Pounamu (nephrite jade), paua shell (abalone haliotis), sealing wax, greenstone
  • New Zealand (Aotearoa)
  • H: 5 1/8 in, W: 3 1/4 in (H: 13.0 cm, W: 8.3 cm)
  • Gift of Captain William Richardson, 1807
  • E5522


East India Marine Society Collection


This is a Maori hei tiki or pendant neck ornament, made of greenstone. Carved figure with inlaid eyes of paua shell, figure with head bent to the left, hole in top of head for cord (which is missing). Another hole at the top of the figure is damaged, possibly during the manufacture of the piece. According to IPAM expert the piece is circa 1800 - not ancient. This seems to be the case based on a comparison with older pieces that have hands on the mouth or stomach, which this does not, as well as the lack of notches around the paua shell eyes. The grooves in the center of the figure are ususally interpreted as ribs, and appear on wooden carvings as well. The eyes are rimmed with a reddish color which is thought to be remanants of the adhesive used to hold the shell inlay in place.

Exhibition History

  • Upcoming Exhibition, Peabody Essex Museum; 2015 through Present