Wall Panel


About this object

A large rectangular poupou (wall panel) from a meeting house. The main design elements are two large humanoid figures (wheku), one above the other, and smaller, more simply carved, humanoid heads between their legs, in their mouths, and on the lower figure's right shoulder. The top figure has its three-fingered left hand to its mouth and right hand on its stomach. The bottom figure has them the other way round. The bottom figure has five toes on each foot, while the top figure appears to have only four. All faces have beaked mouths with tongues sticking out. There are also manaia (bird-like profile heads) along each side of the poupou and on the top figure's left shoulder. The larger eyes, with central circular pegs, are shell-inlaid. The three main faces (two large figures and the face between the top one's legs) have tongues with carved surface decoration ritorito (fish-scale pattern). The rest of the surface decoration is based on rauponga (several parallel ridges and grooves with a notched ridge in between), with double spirals on the two large figures' hips, and on one shoulder and one elbow on each figure. There are plain grooved double spirals on the top figure's eyebrows and at the corners of the two main figures' mouths. There is a carved inscription "Tumau" below the top figure's right elbow.

Object specifics

  • Type
    Architecture; Religion
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Oceania: Polynesia: New Zealand: North Island
  • Date made
  • Materials
    Wood; Abalone (Haliotis sp); Technique: Carved, inlaid
  • Location
    World Museum, Level 3, World Cultures
  • Acquisition
    Received in exchange from the Otago Museum, Dunedin, 1930s
  • Collector
    Augustus Hamilton
  • Place collected
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    59.5 x 7.0 x 255.0 cm
  • Note
    Attribution: East Coast, possibly Ngati Porou or Gisborne, c 1870-1880 (Roger Neich, March 1994). This poupou is one of a number of similar panels in museum collections around the world and at Otago Museum, Dunedin. They were previously attributed to a house identified as Tumoana-kotore, at Hicks Bay, East Coast of North Island. However it is more likely that they were made in the late 1870s near Napier for a Hawke's Bay chief called Karaitiana, who died before the house was completed. His brother, Henare Tomoana, sold the carvings to Augustus Hamilton, who then sold them to Dr TM Hocken, and Dr Hocken gifted them to Otago Museum, Dunedin, in 1890. See Dimitri Anson (2004) 'What's in a Name? The House Carvings that Dr Hocken gave to the Otago Museum', Journal of the Polynesian Society Vol 113:1, 73-90. HD Skinner at Otago Museum then exchanged many of the carvings with over 19 museums world-wide and Liverpool Museum acquired this poupou in the 1930s.
  • Related people
    Augustus Hamilton ( Collector, previous owner); T M Hocken ( Previous owner); Otago Museum ( Previous owner)


Previous owners

  • Otago Museum

    Owned from: 1890
    How acquired: Gift
    Owned until: 1931
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • T M Hocken

    Owned from: 1890
    How acquired: Purchased from Augustus Hamilton and gifted to Otago Museum
    Owned until: 1890
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Augustus Hamilton

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1890
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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