Mar 17, 2006

Treasure Box (Wakahuia)

Treasure Box (Wakahuia)

1800s

Wood with abalone shell

Overall: 17.2 cm (6 3/4 in.)

The Mary Spedding Milliken Memorial Collection, Gift of William Mathewson Milliken 1961.405

Location

Description

Decorated with low-relief spiral designs and small carved figures at each end, the treasure box was used to store ornaments worn by chiefs: feathers of the huia bird, combs, and pendants (hei-tiki). Because the heads and necks of high-ranking Maori chiefs were tapu, or sacred, their personal adornments were dangerous to children or individuals of lower rank. Treasure boxes were therefore hung from the rafters of the chief's house. Boxes like this one were in use when Captain Cook visited New Zealand in 1769-70.

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