Maori Pendant, New Zealand
Lance and Roberta Entwistle, London, acquired from the above
American Private Collection, acquired from the above
Pounamu is harder than iron and working with a cord drill and sandstone saws and files a tohunga whakairo, or master-carver, could take several months to complete a single hei tiki. The tohunga whakairo did not set out to create a work of art; he was simply the means by which the gods expressed themselves in material form. The act of creation itself was tapu, or sacred, and subject to certain prohibitions.