About this object

A human figure roughly carved from a flat piece of wood. It has a large head and small legs, and stands with its hands at sides and feet apart. Shell inlays form the oval eyes, rectangular teeth in the oval mouth, and six buttons and (possibly) nipples on the neck and body. One of these 'buttons' is slightly heart-shaped, in the region of the heart. The shell disc for the bottom button is missing. The wood of the head is splitting and weathered, and the feet are broken and weathered at the front. This may indicate that the figure was placed outdoors for some length of time.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Maori or European
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Oceania: Polynesia: New Zealand
  • Date made
    1879 before
  • Materials
    Wood; Abalone (Haliotis sp); Technique: Carved, inlaid
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Purchased from Air Commodore Andrew Adolphus Walser, 1946
  • Collector
  • Place collected
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    20.5 x 9.0 x 81.0 cm
  • Note
    Records say 'placed round the graves of the dead to keep away evil spirits', but it more likely that the carving was associated with 1860s meeting houses and prophetic religious movements. Attribution: European (David Simmons, October 1981). May have been part of a loan to the Walker Art Gallery in 1880. See item No 525, page 41 in: Catalogue of the Loan Exhibition of Prehistoric Antiquities and Ethnography held at The Walker Art gallery, Liverpool, May 1880. Charles T Gatty 1880. 'Seven Wooden Maori Idols with eyes inlaid with Haliotis shell, such are usually placed round their burying grounds.'
  • Related people
    Henry Charles Stephens ( Previous owner); Andrew Adolphus Walser ( Previous owner)


Previous owners

  • Andrew Adolphus Walser

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Purchase
    Owned until: 1946
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Henry Charles Stephens

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