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Maori Body Ornaments and Jewelry

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Maori Body Ornaments and Jewelry

New Zealand is an island located in the Pacific Ocean. This island consists of a very interesting group of people called the Maori. The Maori people are Polynesian decent. People who are Polynesian are usually people who come from the islands and have the same morals, values, beliefs and also the same language. The Maori people consist of just that. The Maori believe in many different origins and they have many traditional attributions that flow deeply into their cultural beliefs. One of the Maori’s cultural and traditional activities is creating body ornaments and jewelry. If not some but all of the Maori body ornaments and jewelry have a story, religious meaning or historic attribute towards that item in particular. The Maori make their jewelry with passion and strength, it also lets a strong awareness come about it. Maori designs are very harmonious with its crafters tradition and beliefs.

Body Ornaments and Jewelry The Maori people are a very distinctive and decorative race. They have a very interesting way of expressing themselves. They have very distinctive cultural tattoos, somewhat unusual body piercings, and handcrafted jewelry(Deluxe Templates,2009). The handcrafted body ornaments and jewelry play a very important role in the Maori culture(pp.3). Each piece is made with a lot of time, effort, passion, strength, love, a lot of a detail and precision. During the 10th century, the Maori made spectacular achievements in wood and bone carving, tattooing and other art forms. The Maori jewelry lies in the origin of woodcarving. In order for the Maori people to make jewelry or start to create it. They had begun an art form in carving wood. The famous Maori Pukaki carving represents the 18th century Maori warrior Pukaki chief of the Ngati Whakave tribe (Deluxe Templates,2009). Maori jewelry is very symbolic. Besides the jewelry being a decorative item to be worn. The jewelry was honored for its beauty and historic background(pp.1). The Maori people not only made their body ornaments and jewelry to represent their historic tales or symbolic meanings. The jewelry was also made to represent their social status. The jewelry represented their social status when it came to going to certain events and to represent their ancestors(pp.3). According to the shape of Maori jewelry(2009) one could tell what exactly it symbolized. There are many tales and legends that are represented by the handcrafted jewelry. Decorations and patterns have everything to do with spiritual perspectives towards the jewelry. The Maori believed in a spiritual force called mana (pp.4). The characteristics put forth towards making the jewelry are what are believed to be the creation of mana. The Maori people have made their body ornaments and jewelry out of many different materials. The main materials they have been known to use to make their jewelry are bone and greenstone. The material bone had come from items that consisted from abandoned whales, sea creatures, and even humans. The other material used to make the jewelry was called greenstone(pp.8). Greenstone is a hard type of magical power. The Maori believed that this stone was to have some type of magical power. The term the Maori used for this was called pounamu (Deluxe Templates,2009). The Maori also have term used towards their jewelry. This term is called Taonga which means treasure(pp.9). The Maori’s spiritual beliefs and cultural habits can also be referred to as taonga (Deluxe Templates,2009). Another material used towards the Maori jewelry is called Jade. The Maori usually collected this material around from their island. In addition to the Maori jewelry there comes symbolic symbols. These symbols represent what that piece of jewelry or specific body ornaments represents and what story lies behind it(Bone Art Place,2008). In order for someone to tell the story that lies behind the jewelry handcraft. One has to be able to recognize the symbol or shape and form of the body ornament and jewelry. The Maori people have created many different but yet fascinating symbols for their jewelry handcraft. The Maori symbols most commonly used for their jewelry handcraft are the Hei-Matau, the Manaia, the Koru, the twist, the modern, whales, dolphins, the mixed, the spiral, and also human-like figures such as the tiki and tekoteko(Global Planet Jewelry,2007). These symbols all have a very specific meaning and all contribute to the Maori lifestyle.
The Symbols The Hei-Matau which can be made out from either whale bone or the greenstone material is carved in the shapes of a stylish fish hook. This symbol represents good luck, strength and safe travel across water. Hei-Matau also symbolizes power and authority which is greatly held by the Maori people(Bone Art Place,2008). The story or legend behind the Hei-Matau was the once a large fish caught by Maui using only a woven line and a hook made from the jawbone of his grandmother. The Hei-Matau is a very popular item for tourist in the tourist market. The Manaia was pendant made from either bone or greenstone. It was a less common worn piece of jewelry worn by the Maori. The Manaia was a mythological creature. It was to be identified to have a head of a bird and the body of a man(Bone Art Place,2008). The Manaia was also believed to be the messenger between worlds. It symbolized protection and was used as a guardian against evil. The Koru which in Maori term means bight or loop is a spiral shape symbol(pp.16). Koru symbolizes new life, growth, strength, and peace. When the Koru is worn it soon changes color. The Maori pass this piece of jewelry amongst each other. When the Koru is given to someone else, the other person is to wear it for a certain amount of time so that their spirit is given as well. The Koru symbol is also the logo and symbolic symbol for the Air New Zealand. The Twist is a crisscross symbol and it symbolizes the paths of life and love and is somewhat compared to the original eternity symbol. When there is one single twist is symbolizes two people coming together for eternity. The two may move away or take separate paths in life but they will soon return to each other and share their lives together as one(pp.7). The Twist shows the true bond of friendship and shows how much strength, love, and loyalty is displayed. The Modern designs have traditional decorative styles and also contemporary designs. Some of the modern designs are based on Celtic or Oriental designs. The Whales and Dolphin designs are symbols of the ocean(pp.8). For the Maori people the ocean is a very powerful source. The whales and dolphin symbols represent the Maori people who have traveled long distances and have lived on the bounty of the tropical waters. The Maori people show a great appreciation and respect for the sea creatures(Bone Art Place,2008). The mixed symbols are designs such as the tiki. The Tiki is a symbol of good luck. The characteristics of the tiki are when the head is tilted it is strength, mouth is communication, heart is love and loins fertility(Deluxe Template,2009). When someone wears the tiki they are seemed to be very smart and have strength.
The Maori have hand these body ornaments and jewelry handcrafts down from generation to generation. When the Maori’s bone carving jewelry is being made it is said to keep some of its owner aura and to bond with him(Global Planet Jewelry,2007). It is an even tighter bond when worn in direct contact with the person. When a Maori body ornament or jewelry is given as gift the Maori’s bone carved jewelry strong symbolism is one that make a huge impression on the receiver.

Tuarangi.(2009). Bone Maori fish hook necklace. Maori fish hook. Retrieved February 10,2011, from
The Bone Art Place.(2008).Pendants. Bone carvings. Retrieved February 10, 2011, from
Maori Art.(2008) Hidden treasures of the Pacific Ocean. Maori Jewelry. Retrieved February 10,2011, from
Maiden NZ Jewellry.(2008). Jewelry. Maori Design Meanings. Retrieved February 10,2011, from
New Zealand(2000) Maori Names.Places History Maori Carvings. Retrieved February 10,2011, from…...

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