SUPERB MAORI TREASURE BOX BOTTOM, NEW ZEALAND

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Lot 28
SUPERB MAORI TREASURE BOX BOTTOM, NEW ZEALAND

US$ 40,000 - 60,000
€ 33,000 - 49,000

African and Oceanic Art

19 Nov 2020, 11:00 PST

Los Angeles

SUPERB MAORI TREASURE BOX BOTTOM, NEW ZEALAND
papahou
length 23 3/4in (60.3cm)

Provenance
Merton D. Simpson Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner

"Originally, treasure boxes were designed to be suspended on flax cords from the rafters of a dwelling house, and therefore had as much carving on the underside as on the top lid. Probably many boxes had plain uncarved surfaces, but these were rarely collected.

An ancient regional type concentrated in the northern and western areas was usually called a papahou in reference to its flattened rectangular form. Most papahou have been carved with stone tools and feature the sinuous intertwined figures of Northland and Taranaki carvings from these areas. Papahou did not make the transition into the metal age, perhaps because the carvers from those areas suffered in the early epidemics or were involved in the destructive musket raids of the 1820s.[. . .]

Papahou, wakahuia [a later version carved in the shape of a canoe], and papahou whakairo [a smaller, squared-box shape] held the treasured feathers and ornaments owned individually by high-ranking persons. Being worn in close contact with the tapu heads of chiefly individuals, these ornaments and their treasure-box containers took on the tapu power of their owners. A very wide range of ear, neck and breast ornaments rendered in stone, bone, shell, teeth, ivory and precious jade nephrite were worn by both men and women, becoming treasured family and tribal heirlooms as they passed down through the generations." (Strazecka, Dorota C., et.al, The Maori Collections of the British Museum, The British Museum Press, London, 2010, p. 43)

This finely stone carved treasure box bottom, now missing the lid, is of impressively large scale in shallow rectangular form with a flattened bottom and carved throughout the outer surface with an array of large tiki figures and scrolling designs in very high relief; fine aged brown patina with wear indicative of significant age and cultural use.
Contacts
SUPERB MAORI TREASURE BOX BOTTOM, NEW ZEALAND
SUPERB MAORI TREASURE BOX BOTTOM, NEW ZEALAND
SUPERB MAORI TREASURE BOX BOTTOM, NEW ZEALAND
SUPERB MAORI TREASURE BOX BOTTOM, NEW ZEALAND
SUPERB MAORI TREASURE BOX BOTTOM, NEW ZEALAND
SUPERB MAORI TREASURE BOX BOTTOM, NEW ZEALAND
SUPERB MAORI TREASURE BOX BOTTOM, NEW ZEALAND
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