Door lintel (pare)

RI 26.16

About this object

The ‘pare’ is one of the most important carvings in a Maori meeting house, as it guards the threshold between two worlds - the meeting space outside where strangers are welcomed and debates take place, and the family space inside with its sculptures of the ancestors. The meeting house itself usually represents an ancestor of the tribe, so different parts of the house represent different parts of the body of this ancestor. A 'pare' usually sits above the main entrance of the meeting house. The central female figure on this door lintel represents a female ancestor.

This 'pare' was “carved with steel tools in the Ngāti Porou style. The central female figure has the right hand on the chest, left hand on the stomach in a sign of pregnancy. The bodies of medium-size manaia – which are probably human life and godly life (ira tangata and ira atua) – are at either side, together with six small figures. The tongue of the central figure emerges from the mouth, giving the ancestor and descendants the right to speak.” (David Simmons, ‘The Carved Pare: A Maori Mirror of the Universe’, Huia, Wellington, 2001, pp98-99).

Object specifics

  • Type
    Architecture; Religion
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Oceania: Polynesia: New Zealand: North Island: Gisborne
  • Date made
    1894 before
  • Materials
    Wood; Abalone (Haliotis sp); Technique: Carved, inlaid
  • Location
    World Museum, Level 3, World Cultures
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Liverpool Royal Institution, from a loan in 1894
  • Collector
  • Place collected
    Not recorded
  • Date collected
    1894 before
  • Measurements
    79.0 x 4.5 x 33.0 cm
  • Related people
    Liverpool Royal Institution ( Previous owner)

Explore related


  • Pare (Door Lintels) of Human Figure Composition

    Archey, Gilbert

    Author: Archey, Gilbert
    Publisher: Auckland Institute and Museum
    Date: 1960-09-23

  • The Carved Pare: A Maori Mirror of the Universe

    Simmons, David

    Author: Simmons, David
    Publisher: Huia Publishers
    Date: 2001

  • Whaowhia - Maori Art and its Artists

    Archey, Gilbert

    Author: Archey, Gilbert
    Publisher: Collins
    Date: 1977


Previous owners

  • Liverpool Royal Institution

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1894
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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