Head, from North Island
In the past, the Maori carefully preserved their ancestors' skulls, and works such as this rare example may have been a substitute for a lost or damaged skull. The relief represents the tattoo patterns (moko) of the individual depicted. Tattooing was a mark of prestige among the Maori. Specialists created body tattoos with a needle comb, but this type of facial pattern was incised into the skin of the face with chisels, resembling the technique used in carving wood. While these facial tattoos belong to the past, certain types of tattooing continue to this day.
Artform: OCEANIC ART
Artist: Maori People
Country/Culture: Polynesia: New Zealand
Period: 19th century
Date: mid-19th-early 20th century
Size: Height: 20.32 cm
Museum: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
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