Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


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

event photos


* Brooklyn Museum > Art of the Pacific Islands
"Gable Mask (Koruru 
Maori people; New Zealand, North Island, East Coast, Gisborne, circa 1860  
Wood and shell ...
This diagram illustrates exterior elements found on communal meeting houses, the houses of chiefs, and some food storage buildings.  The Maori believed these structures symbolized the body of an important ancestor, with the ridgepole indicating the backbone, the rafters the ribs, and the slanting facade boards the arms.  Placed at the apex of the gable, the gable mask depicts the face of the honored ancestor.  In addition to this gable mask, a gable figure and a door lintel are included in this display of Maori art."

* Museo Nacional de Antropología > Origenes del Museo

* Brooklyn Museum > Art of the Pacific Islands
"Head  Maori people; 
New Zealand, North Island, 
18th or 19th century  
Wood ...
Probably placed at the base of a canoe prow (parata), this head displays intricate facial tattoo patterns (moko) worn by Maori men of high rank.  While important women primarily tattooed their lips and chin, men had more elaborate designs covering their entire face.  Throughout Polynesia, tattoo patterns were produced with small bone combs that pricked dark pigments into the skin.  The Maori, however, also used small bone chisels to cut the design into the skin, creating a rough texture.  On the back of this wooden head is a manaia, a bird-human-reptilian figure representing the spirit world."

* Museum of Fine Arts > Arts of Oceania
"Face carving  Maori peoples, New Zealand, 19-20th centuries
Wood and shell
This carving was originally attached to a horizontal handle, with a smaller head at the other end.  The complete object may have been a bird perch, net holder, or ritual object.  The fine surface carving replicates tattoo patterns, an art form highly developed by the Maori. ..."

* Museum of Fine Arts > Arts of Oceania
"Head  Maori peoples, New Zealand, 19th-20th centuries
In the past the Maori carefully preserved their ancestors' skulls, and works such as this rare example may have been substitutes for lost or damaged skulls.  The relief represents the tattoo patterns (moko) of the individual depicted.  Tattooing was a mark of prestige among the Maori.  Specialists created body tattoos with a needle comb, but this type of facial pattern was incised into the skin of the face with chisels, resembling the technique used in carving wood.  While these facial tattoos belong to the past, certain types of tattooing continue to this day. ..."

* International Museum of Cultures

* International Museum of Cultures

* 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."