This figure has retained its long and thick hair which was a sign of power. The geometric facial scars are definitely a picture of the true tattoos on this chief. Maori people gave indeed a very important attention to their genealogy. It was necessary to recognize the glorious ancient to better honor him.
Discovered in an attic in Scotland in 1979, it had been brought by a sailor in the early 1830s. The great condition of its human hair may indicate that this piece was not very old at the time of its collection.
We cannot find here any European influence. Maori relations with Europeans were not very tight, the embassy of Te Pahi in Australia in 1805 being a notable exception.
The former Maori art is now better known for its anthropomorphic architectural elements, columns or roof pieces. Statues in the round were destroyed in the 1850s by the Christian missionaries who considered them as unacceptable artifacts of the deification of ancestors.
This statuette 39 cm high is estimated € 1.5M, lot 10.