Sunday, April 1, 2012

Superstition: Maori and Paua Shells

Maori are a superstitious bunch. A warrior culture, where losing in battle was pretty rough. For those that didn't run off in shame, they were usually killed by the enemy. Not hard to understand why winning was all important. Several rituals were performed before a battle including abstinence, eating certain foods and a haka (dance). The haka included waving weapons around, sticking out tongues, bulging out eyes and grunting. 

They were practicing scaring the enemy.  If the haka wasn't performed correctly it was seen as a bad omen... which clearly had consequences. The afterlife crowd also kept a close eye on them. Carvings around the village included paua shells as eyes (to represent the stars); symbolic for the eyes of their ancestors that gaze down from the night sky. 

There was no shortage of paua shell. Paua is New Zealand's version of abalone but with deeper, richer colors. It came in all shapes and sizes. I found it in bead stores, jewelry stores, souvenier shops ... and well pretty much everywhere we went. So I had to pick up some and bring it home. I really like the organic look of these natual chips. I saw them in the bead stores, but they were all undrilled. Undrilled? Really ... in the bead stores? I asked why and was told "you pick what you like and we drill them for you" (of course for a charge). Since I was only visiting, it didn't seem like the most expediant process. I ended up finding it -drilled- in New Zealand's equivalent to Michael's. Much more sensible for the traveler. The earrings (right) use a twist connector that make them look a bit like one of those twirly things my mom liked to hang in the wind.  Since I was visiting my sister on the first anniversary of my Mom's passing ... this one's for you Mom. It will help you keep an eye on me.



They're lovely -- earthy and mystical at the same time!

DeeBee L. said...

Maori Art is one of the most attractive i have come across, as it has eleborate patterns and colours! I didn't know about the symbolism behind the haka, this is very interesting!Thnak you.

Christine Altmiller said...

Beautiful earrings and sentiment. Wear them often.

Miss Val's Creations said...

The Maori sound quite interesting and the haka very scary! The paua shell eyes on the carving are so cool. I love this tribute to your mom. The chip shape looks so pretty dangling.

Plami said...

OMG these earrings are so exquisite and beautiful <3


Marcela Gmd said...

Wow interesting post!!! and beautiful earrings!!!
Have a nice day!

Besos, desde España, Marcela♥

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