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Pendant (Hei-tiki)

Pendant (Hei-tiki)

1800s

Nephrite (greenstone)

Overall: 16.9 x 10.2 cm (6 5/8 x 4 in.)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James B. Wadhams in memory of Miss Helen Humphreys 1969.107

Description

The hei-tiki is a stylized human figure with head tilted to one side, hands on hips, and feet tucked under the body. The face wears a wide-eyed expression, and has a broad mouth with a defiantly protruding tongue. Because greenstone was considered a supernatural substance, hei-tikis carved from it became family heirlooms. Their intrinsic value, or mana, increased as they passed from one generation to the next. During his voyages to the South Pacific, Captain James Cook collected a number of these neck pendants. In 1769 he gave one to King George III of England, which remains in the collection of the royal family.

See also

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