Thursday, June 14, 2012

Matau: Traditional Hooks, Innovative Designs

From ingenious tool to ornament, souvenir, and symbol of cultural revival, this exhibition explores the changing form and function of the Māori matau (fish hook). Without the technology to extract metal, Māori originally made their hooks from wood, bone, stone, and shell. Early European explorers considered matau ‘ill-made’ and ‘of doubtful efficacy.' In fact, the design was sophisticated and highly effective, as modern-day fishers have recently rediscovered. Post-contact, Māori quickly integrated European tools and technologies with the traditional matau form that had served them so well. Meanwhile, bone and stone matau acquired new significance as highly collectible artifacts and, more recently, as personal adornment. This exhibition, on view at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand through November 14, features several exquisite examples of contemporary hei matau made from pounamu (greenstone), ivory, and wood.

View the exhibition's official website.

Information and images courtesy of Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand

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