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The Coming of the Maori

The Chevroned Pendant

page 291

The Chevroned Pendant

A curious type of breast pendant has been termed the chevroned amulet by Skinner (74, vol. 43, p. 199), but as he points out, the name is not quite satisfactory because some are without chevrons. The pendant is characterized by a curved body with perforated lateral expansions and a median perforated ridge on the front concave surface. The most complete chevroned specimen is in the Auckland Museum, and it remotely suggests a spinal column with the lateral bars and the median ridge suggesting the lateral and spinal processes of a vertebral column but with the general curve in the opposite way. The upper enlargement also suggests a skull (Fig. 82a).What the early craftsman had in mind when he laboriously carved a whale's tooth into such a complicated form remains unsolved. The "processes" and "spines" are shaped to form chevrons but in some of the less complicated forms, the chevrons are replaced by short notched projections which resemble the bait cleats on fishhooks (Fig. 82b).The head enlargement is usually absent.

In addition to the symmetrical form with a median ridge, Skinner described an asymmetrical variety without the median ridge, but by comparing specimens of both varieties, he showed that the technique or general pattern of the median ridge has been reproduced on one side while the lateral pattern has been retained on the other side (Fig. 82c). Skinner (74, vol. 43, p. 213) has drawn attention to the similarity of the chevrons to those on the well-known Kaitaia carving, and I agree with him that the chevron motif probably belonged to an early stage in Maori carving which was dropped after the subsequent development of curvilinear art. Another curious artifact is shown in Figure 82d.