The Coming of the Maori
Breast Ornaments of Teeth
Breast Ornaments of Teeth
The teeth of sperm whales were used singly as breast ornaments in the Marquesas and Mangareva. This natural form was also used by the early settlers of New Zealand, as revealed by its presence with moa-hunter remains in Wairau (Fig. 81a)and also in the Chatham Islands. Copies in soapstone and bone have also been excavated in New Zealand.page 288
Fig. 81. Breast ornaments.
a, whale tooth, after Duff (30, pl. VIIA); b, rei puta, after Skinner (74, fig. 117); c, "whale-tooth" pendant, after Duff (30, pl. IX, A); d, bone hook (Bishop Mus., C9146); e, Hawaiian lei palaoa (Bishop Mus., 4938); f, g, spool ornament, after Duff (30, pl. VIII, A, H).
Whale-tooth pendant is a term applied by Archey (6) to a curious ornament forming a conventional tooth with a thick rectangular root and a slender curved crown. The roots are pierced from side to side for suspen-page 289sion, with the concave curve of the crown to the front. Archey described a bracelet with the teeth made of whale ivory, but Duff (30, p. 14) described a number of necklaces from the Wairau finds in which one necklace contained 21 units in whale ivory while a number of others contained 70 units made of moa bone. Thus the term whale-ivory pendant is a misnomer, but Duff kept it for want of a better term (Fig. 81c). Skinner (74, vol. 43, p. 112) has shown its resemblance in form to the Hawaiian hooked whale-tooth pendant (lei niho palaoa) and a specimen he sent to the Bishop Museum (No. C. 9146) is compared in Figure 81dto one of the smaller Hawaiian ornaments (Fig. 81e).The possibility that the idea of the curved crown in both the New Zealand and Hawaiian ornaments was obtained from the recurved crowns of the teeth of killer whales (Orca gladiator) independently should not be overlooked. The New Zealand ornament is pierced at the upper end for suspension by a cord, and the Hawaiian ornament is pierced midway down to hang between two coils of human hair plaited in a fine eight-ply square braid (Pl. XXI).
Coils of finely braided hair have been recorded for the Society and Cook Islands, Marquesas, Penryhn, and Hawaii where they were used for suspending breast ornaments; and similar coils, in Samoa and Niue for girdles. The use of human hair coils was evidently avoided in New Zealand and the belts (tu) consisting of many strands of three-ply braid were made of karetu grass or flax fibre. Probably the intense tapu of the Maori heads induced this conservative attitude.