What are Maori wooden carvings called?
Maori wood carving, also known as whakairo rakau, is a traditional art form that has a rich history and cultural significance in New Zealand. The Maori people have been practicing wood carving for centuries, using a variety of native timbers, particularly wood from the majestic kauri and totara trees.
According to Maori oral tradition, the art of wood carving was brought to their ancestors by the cultural hero Ruatepupuke. In this story, Ruatepupuke's son plays a significant role in the development of wood carving as an art form.
The significance of Maori wood carving.
Maori wood carving has a deep cultural significance and is often used to depict important legends and stories. Many carvings represent old Maori legends, such as the temptation of man by a mythical monster with the head of a bird. These carvings serve as a visual representation of Maori mythology and history.
The techniques used in Maori wood carving vary depending on the type of material being carved, whether it is wood, stone, or bone. Wood carving, in particular, involves intricate designs and patterns that require meticulous attention to detail. The carvers use a range of tools, including chisels and adzes, to shape the wood and create the desired design.
Maori wood carvings are not only a significant cultural expression but also highly valued as works of art. They are often displayed in museums and galleries worldwide, showcasing the craftsmanship and artistic skills of the Maori people. In addition, these carvings are also popular as maori gifts, allowing individuals to share the beauty and cultural heritage of Maori wood carving with others.
Maori wood carving holds a prominent place in Maori culture and history. It is a traditional art form that has been passed down through generations, representing important legends and stories. The techniques used in wood carving require great skill and precision, resulting in stunning and intricate designs. Maori carvings are not only treasured as cultural artifacts but also valued as beautiful works of art, making them popular as gifts and collectable items.
Popular Designs and Meanings.
Maori wood carving holds a significant place in the culture and heritage of New Zealand. With its intricate designs and deep symbolic meanings, it reflects the rich history and traditions of the Maori people. In this article, we will explore some popular Maori wood carving designs and delve into their fascinating meanings.
Taonga Puoro (Musical Instruments): One of the most notable Maori wood carving designs is that of Taonga Puoro, which refers to traditional Maori musical instruments. These instruments, crafted from native New Zealand wood, carry both cultural and spiritual significance. Each instrument has its unique design, often featuring intricate carvings that depict important ancestral stories or elements of nature. These carvings serve as a visual representation of the instrument's purpose and meaning.
Hei Matau (Fish Hook): The Hei Matau, or fish hook, is another prominent Maori wood carving design. Symbolizing strength, prosperity, and safe travel over water, it holds great cultural value. The intricately carved fish hook features decorative elements that represent the connection between humans and the ocean. These designs often depict marine creatures and intertwining patterns, reflecting the importance of fishing in Maori culture.
Manaia: The Manaia is a mythical creature often depicted in Maori wood carving designs. This spiritual guardian is believed to protect individuals and communities from evil spirits and bring good fortune. With the head of a bird, body of a man, and tail of a fish, the Manaia symbolises the connection between the spiritual and physical worlds. Carved with great attention to detail, this design represents the Maori belief in the spiritual realm and their reverence for nature.
Tiki: The wooden Tiki is a well-known Maori wood carving design that signifies fertility, protection, and good luck. Typically representing the first human being, this design features a humanoid figure with distinct facial features and elaborate adornments. The intricate carvings on the Tiki often include symbols of strength, prosperity, and protection. This design not only serves as a decorative piece but also as a talisman and a connection to the Maori ancestors.
Koru: The Koru design is inspired by the unfurling fern frond, symbolising new beginnings, growth, and harmony. Often found in Maori wood carvings, and taniko bands for Korowai or Maori cloak, this design is also an integral symbol in Māori art, carving and tattooing.
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See our article on - Unlocking Memories: 21st Birthday Milestone the Significance of a Carved 21st Key.