About the object
Derartige Anhänger, hei tiki genannt, wurden von den Maori als Zeichen der Erinnerung an verstorbene Verwandte und ihrer kulturellen Identität getragen. Sie waren wertvoller Familienbesitz und wurden über Generationen hinweg weitergegeben. Der Kopf der Figur ist zur Schulter geneigt und am oberen Ende mit einem Loch versehen, durch das traditionell eine Schnur aus Flachs gezogen wird. Die Beine sind angewinkelt, mit zusammenstoßenden Fersen, die Arme auf die Oberschenkel gestützt. Die Figur folgt damit der überlieferten Form und ist wie die meisten hei tiki geschlechtsneutral. Beide Augen sind mit Perlmutt ausgelegt.
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The Maori of New Zealand wore tikis on a string of flax and a clasp made of bones as a token of remembrance of deceased relatives. The small squatting figures made of nephrite were valuable family possessions passed down through generations. Tiki means "carved human figure", hei stands for "hanging". Formally speaking, tikis are similar in appearance: inclined head, bent legs, heels pressed together, arched belly and hands resting on the thighs. Older specimens have eyes lined with haliotis, later on sealing wax was often used for this purpose. The figures are mostly gender-neutral, a few are female. They were worn by both men and women. The oldest specimens date from the 16th century. Tikis have been very popular souvenirs since James Cook first visited New Zealand in 1769. The Maori quickly realised how much Europeans valued these objects and were happy to trade them for coveted goods, such as iron tools. They quickly began to produce tikis for the trade in larger quantities. The blades of nephrite axes were also used: they had become superfluous due to the use of iron axes, and the raw material was difficult to obtain. The shape of the axe blade can be seen very clearly on the Freiburg specimen. Since the middle of the 19th century, gemstone cutters in Idar-Oberstein in Rhineland-Palatinate have been producing tikis made of New Zealand nephrite, which were then exported and sold in New Zealand as original Maori objects to tourists and collectors. These connections were researched and unearthed by the ethnology professor Rolf Herzog from Freiburg, who died in 2006. This also means that some of the Hei Tikis in European museums may well originate from Idar-Oberstein. Margarete Brüll