Monday, May 25, 2009

Sunday Share - Hei Matau

It is a Sunday, except for the fact that our half bathroom floor is drying, as it has new linoleum on it, thus our washer and dryer and toilet have no home, nothing much is going on today. We did watch Congo tonight, as TV is basically over for the summer.

So I decided to take a page from Tori_Z at Torizworld and do a Sunday Share. I am sharing with you the hei matau. I was given one, it is a cherished posession...I should probably do the rundown on it though, so you understand what it is.

Hei matau

A hei matau is a bone or greenstone carving in the shape of a highly stylized fish hook typical of the Maori people of New Zealand. They represent strength, good luck and safe travel across water.


The fish-hook shape of the hei matau finds its origins in Māori legend, which holds that the North Island of New Zealand was once a huge fish that was caught by the great mariner Maui using only a woven line and a bone hook. Legend holds that the shape of Hawke Bay is that of the hei matau, which caught in the fish's side. For the Māori, the hei matau is taonga (a cultural treasure). It represents not only their land, but also prosperity, fertility and safe passage over water. They also denote the importance of fishing to Māori, and their relationship to Tangaroa, god of the sea.


Traditionally, bone hei matau were carved from whale bone. They came in several different forms ranging from the plain and utilitarian, used for catching fish, to the highly ornate, which served as treasured family heirlooms. Today, their main use is ornamental and they are commonly worn around the neck not only by Māori, but also by other New Zealanders who identify with the hei matau as a symbol of New Zealand.

Bone carvings and artwork have a very special feel about them, unlike anything else you will ever experience. Their milky white appearance and soft flowing lines are just the start. They are soft and warm to the touch yet the finish is like polished glass, they seem to blend with your body and become a part of you, especially when worn as a pendant against your skin. Over a period of time bone carvings absorb oils from your skin and change colour to a very light honey gold. The Maori believe this to be the carving taking on some of your spirituality or essence and thus truly becoming a part of the wearer.
*Thanks to Wickipedia and kiwihomepage

Some say as you pass on the carving to generations, it holds a part of each person who has worn it, if worn with respect. I cherish mine. I was given one as a birthday gift a few years ago, and it is directly from New Zealand. I am 1/4 New Zealand, so when I first saw the design (worn by Viggo Mortensen. Many of the cast of the LOTR trilogy bought them during their stay in New Zealand), I was enchanted and knew I wanted one. Mine is quite similar to the picture above, except it is thinner, so more delicate. It was hand carved, I got paperwork and everything, and they do tell you, wear it against your skin, because it is supposed to soak the oils from you into it to make it, it's permanent color. Mine is still very white. I am so careful with it, which includes me keeping it in it's original case and wearing it only when I know there will be no one who grabs it, so not very often, but I plan on wearing it more. I am very proud to be New Zealand and hope to go there someday. I also own a jade twist, which I recieved a year later. The twist with its crisscross form represents the many paths of life and love and as such is regarded as the original eternity symbol. The single twist in particular shows the joining together of two people for eternity. Even though they sometimes move away from each other on their own journeys, they will always come together again sharing their lives and blending to become one. It tells how the strength of bond of friendship, loyalty and love will last forever. The pic below looks nothing like mine, mine may be a mix of twist and koru, I will have to recheck the paperwork. It is gorgeous and I am so happy I own both pieces!! I am so proud of my heritage.

Hope you enjoyed learning a little about New Zealand's treasured jewelery!! Have a great night!!

P.S. What no one likes movie trailers, aka my last post?!! Well tough I prepared 5 more of those flashback trailer posts last night and it took me a long time!! *pouts*
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1 meaningful meanderings:

Anonymous said...

Very cool!

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