Lot: 43

101st Auction

Treasure box "waka huia"

New Zealand, Maori

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Hellmut Patzer, Silesia, Poland (acquired in the 1st half of the 20th century) L: 15.7 inch;
H: 3.9 inch
8000 EUR
plus 27 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance

wood, shell inlay, missing part

These treasure containers stored a person's most prized personal possessions, such as pendants "hei-tiki", feathers for decorating and dressing the hair, hair comb "heru" and other items of personal adornment.

"Waka huia" were imbued with the "tapu" of their owners because the boxes contained personal items that regularly came into contact with the body, particularly the head.

"Waka huia" were designed to be suspended from the low hanging ceiling of the "whare" where their beautifully carved and decorated undersides could be appreciated. The beautiful head, presumably representing an ancestor, also looks down accordingly.

These containers were very valuable and were carefully guarded over the generations. As "taonga", "waka huia" are often gifted between sub-tribes, families, and individuals to acknowledge relationships, friendships, and other significant social events.

Phelps,Steven, Art and Artefacts of the Pacific, Africa and the Americas. The James Hooper Collection, London 1976, p. 41, Plate 9 (especially third container from the left)