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The Coming of the Maori

Breast Ornaments

Breast Ornaments

An exhaustive study of Maori ornaments has been made by Skinner (74), the basis being the extensive collection in the University of Otago Museum. Much of the material was obtained from old village sites and thus vouches for the authenticity of the study material. In archaeological specimens it is sometimes difficult to decide as to whether the ornament was an ear pendant or a breast ornament. Small, light objects may be regarded as ear pendants, unless a necklace is indicated by a number being found close together. Weight may also help but we have no way of judging the strain to which the ears of the original owners were accustomed.

Skinner regards the greater number of Maori pendants as amulets worn to obtain magical benefit. He is probably correct, for many of the pendants figured by him are not very decorative in appearance. Some of the cruder specimens in the form of birds, fish, and hooks might well have been used by their owners to procure success in fowling, fishing, and other activities.