Hei-tiki may represent Hine-te-Iwaiwa, a legendary ancestress who is the exemplar of Māori womanhood.
Among the Māori, leaders are hereditary and imbued with mana, power and prestige that can be embodied and passed down in the artworks associated with them. Hei-tiki are among these treasured, mana-charged heirlooms, which connect the living to ancestors of the islands’ pre-European past. They may represent Hine-te-Iwaiwa, a legendary ancestress who is the exemplar of Māori womanhood and the patron of childbirth.
Polynesia, New Zealand, Maori people, 19th century
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