Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1807 Maori ariki
>>>>primary sources
Subjectariki / rangatira warrior chief
Culture: Maori
Setting: Musket Wars, Aotearoa / North Island 1807-1830

​American Museum of Natural History > Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples *

* Kimbell Art Museum
"New Zealand, Maori culture, possibly Rongowhakaata people, Te Huringa period I, 1800-present  Standing Ancestor Figure  c. 1800-1840  Wood ...
The Maori tribes of New Zealand excelled in the decoration of their timber buildings with elaborate relief carvings and sculptures.  This powerfully conceived, freestanding figure may have functioned as a tekoteko, a carved figure placed on the gable peak of an assembly house, food storehouse, or chief's dwelling; or it may have been a poutokomanawa, the center post that holds up the ridgepole of a large house such as that of a chieftain.  The ridgepole is symbolically the backbone of the ancestor who is represented by the house.  The figure represents either a god or a recently deceased male ancestor who, in Maori culture, looks after the welfare of his descendants.
    "As is common with these statues, the face is carved with an intricate curvilinear pattern reproducing the tattoos (moko) that decorate the faces of Maori chieftains.  The carvings on the arms are not the same tattoos as on the face; they are specific patterns that are either unique to a particular family (whanau) or have a specific significance for that sculpture.  Spirals mark the joints of the figure at the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and hips, reflecting the early date and superior quality of the work -- the rough edges indicate that the spirals were cut with stone tools, before the introduction of steel knives in the early nineteenth century."

​* Brooklyn Museum > Oceania
"Gable Figure (Tekoteko)  Maori people; New Zealand, North Island, East Coast, circa 1850-60  Wood, shell, and pigment ...
Placed above a gable mask, this tattooed ancestor figure would have been the highest element of the façade."

* Metropolitan Museum of Art > Oceania
"Gable Figure (Tekoteko)  Maori people, Te Arawa Region,  Aotearoa (New Zealand), 1820s  Wood, paint ...
Ancestors (tupuna) play a central role in Maori art and culture.  The majority of human images (tiki) in Maori art portray ancestors, and some of the finest ancestor images were, and are, created as architectural ornaments.  This imposing tiki is a tekoteko (gable ornament), which once adorned the roof peak of a storehouse (pataka), belonging to the village chief and used to safeguard food, tools, weapons, and other items.
    "Each gable ornament depicts a founding ancestor, the progenitor of the group (iwi) of which the community forms a part.  In this image, the ancestor grasps a kotiate (a type of hand club) firmly in his right hand.  The kotiate was used in hand-to-hand combat, and its presence suggests that this ancestor was an accomplished warrior.  Probably carved in the 1820s, this work, which was collected soon after it was made, still preserves its original polychrome paint."