Box

M5012

About this object

Carving of a crouched or squatting figure carrying a box on its back, with another humanoid figure on the box lid. The base is horseshoe-shaped and flat. Both figures are asymmetrical. The main figure has its left (two-fingered) hand held to its left cheek, and carved moko (tattooing) on its face. It also has paired curved haehae (grooves) on its head and two koru (bulbed hook shapes) in the area of the left eyebrow. The upper lip and chin have "blank spirals" which may also be koru and there is another possible koru shape on the back of the loin area. The figure on the lid has its (three-fingered) right hand held to its chest, and three toes on each foot. It has one large (right) nostril, two teeth in a beaked mouth, and carved decoration on the right side of the forehead. Each knee has a spiral and there are elliptical shapes on each shoulder. Both figures have elliptical, shell-inlaid eyes. Most of the rest of the surface is covered with rauponga (several parallel ridges with a notched ridge between) and whakarare (a distorted rauponga pattern where the parallel ridges regularly curve across the notched ridge). The lid is attached to the base by two rectangular pegs and holes. There are traces of red pigment in the peg holes.

Object specifics

  • Type
    Container
  • Culture
    Maori
  • Artist/Maker
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place made
    Oceania: Polynesia: New Zealand
  • Date made
    1867 before
  • Materials
    Wood; Abalone (Haliotis sp); Ochre (Red); Technique: Carved, inlaid
  • Location
    World Museum, Level 3, World Cultures
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Joseph Mayer, 1867
  • Collector
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place collected
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Date collected
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Measurements
    18.0 x 10.5 x 17.0 cm
  • Note
    Attribution: Gisborne, 1850, made by Raharuhi Rukupo (David Simmons, October 1981); Gisborne, about 1840 (Roger Neich, March 1994).

    This is known as the 'Mayer tinderbox' (after its previous owner, Joseph Mayer) and is one of a small number of boxes with squatting or seated figures made in the mid nineteenth century. Some of these may have been made by the master carver Raharuhi Rukupo. The original use of the box is not known.

    Published in the Catalogue of the Mayer Museum: Prehistoric antiquities and ethnography, Part 2. Charles T Gatty (1882). Item No 736, p 84.
    'Box in wood, in shape of a man's figure stooping, and carrying the box on his back, on top of which is carved a grotesque human figure. The face of the stooping figure is carved with ornamentation representing the elaborate tattooing of the Maoris; the eyes of both figures are inlaid with shell. The figure is placed upon a very distinctly horshoe-shaped stand, which renders it probable that it was carved subsequent to the European occupation of New Zealand.'

    Listed in Catalogue of the Loan Exhibition of Prehistoric Antiquities and Ethnography held at The Walker Art gallery, Liverpool, May 1880. Charles T Gatty 1880.
    Item No 516, page 40.
  • Related people
    Joseph Mayer (Associated Person, previous owner)

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Publications

  • Catalogue of the Loan Exhibition of Prehistoric Antiquities and Ethnography held at The Walker Art gallery, Liverpool, May 1880

    Gatty, Charles T

    Author: Gatty, Charles T
    Publisher:
    Date: 1880
    Description:

  • Catalogue of the Mayer Museum: Prehistoric antiquities and ethnography, Part 2.

    Gatty, Charles T

    Author: Gatty, Charles T
    Publisher: The Committee of the Liverpool Free Public Library, Museum and Gallery of Art
    Date: 1882
    Description:

Ownership

Previous owners

  • Joseph Mayer

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Gift
    Owned until: 1867
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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