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Treasure Box (Wakahuia or Papahou)

Artist/Maker: Maori people (New Zealand)

Date: 19th century
Medium: wood, stain and haliotis shell
Overall: 22 3/4 x 8 3/4 x 6 5/8 in. (57.8 x 22.2 x 16.8 cm)
Classification: Containers
Credit Line: Gift of The Rubin - Ladd Foundation
Object number: 2005.43.26
DescriptionRichly carved containers for valued personal items were found in the homes of chiefs. This box held treasures such as feathers that were symbols of status, jade or bone objects, or musical instruments such as flutes. The treasure boxes were suspended from ceiling beams by means of the lugs carved at either end; hence the careful carving of the bottom surface which was clearly visible from below. In the center, in raised carving, is a human figure (tiki) in characteristic form with shell- inlaid eyes. Disembodied tiki heads with inlaid eyes form the handles on each end. The rest of the surface is covered by basic elements of the Maori style: the double spiral, the spiral with elongated stem (koru) typically doubled, and parallel ridges with rows of “dog teeth” notching in between (rauponga).
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