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Enquiry from Online Galleries regarding "New Zealand Maori Godstick ‘Tiki-Wananga’"
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Look at what I found on the Online Galleries website!
Rich smooth silky dark brown patina
One eye with remains of shell inlay traces of red ochre the shaft probably once longer
Size: 14cm long, 3cm wide, 2.5cm deep – 5½ ins long, 1¼ ins wide, 1 ins deep
cf: Edge Partington, Album 3, pl 158 No. 3, pl 389, no. 9 and 10 for similar examples
Godsticks were not worshipped as idols. They served as material vehicles for the spirits they represented, their identity designated by the priest who used the image. It is thought that their identification to individual gods, by way of particular features of the carving, was begun by the Maoris for the interest of missionary collectors. With the wide acceptance of Christianity before the middle of the 19th century many of the godsticks were destroyed or abandoned. Fortunately at that time the Reverend Richard Taylor had a great interest in Maori customs and culture. Some of the godsticks he collected are now in Cambridge University Museum of Ethnology and on each one he conveniently pencilled in the name of the deity it supposedly represented. He would prevail on his converts to bring out their ‘senseless idols’ which he said ‘they literally cast away…. to the bats and moles…. concealing them in clefts and hollow trees’.