The Human Form depicted through body modification in Oceania art

Oceania art is depicted through body modification, decorative pigments on flesh and intricate design inlaid on sculpture as well as the human form depicted through photography. These "You may lose your most valuable property through misfortune in various ways. You may lose your house, your wife and other treasures. But of your moko, you cannot be deprived except by death. It will be your ornament and companion until your last day. " Moko will be your ornament and companion until your last day". - Netana Whakaari of Waianae. The gallery exhibits work from Oceania in reguards to the human form and how it relates to body modification, scarification, with homage to tradition. Women are dressed with facial tattoos, face paint and specific cultural clothing to define their status in their community. The remaining sculpture depicts carved figures who act as the central poles of one of the three supporting posts within a wharenui or whare tupuna, (Maori ancestral house). These works represent the strict conventions, ceremonial rituals the Maori people went through to showcase wealth, power, status and prestige.                                                                                                           Solomon Islands is known for their tattooing, inlaid work and beautiful sculptures that showcase body modification. This artwork comes from Solomon Islands and displays the transformation of the human form through body modification, scarification, decorative body paint used for ceremonial services, marks of prestige, power, mourning and obligation. The artwork is monumental and helped polarized western cultural obsession of body modification including tattooing and scarification. These pieces show significance to the culture and are highly regarded as sacred and beautiful.                                                                                                                   Each artwork relates to each, how Natives represent their stories, life, stature and family in body modifications. The practice of ancestral representation comes with rigorous protocols and scared associations. The sculptures are crafted to such excellent detail that is supposed to replicate the ancestor as if they were standing directly in front of you. These works represent so many cultural values in a beautiful descriptive aesthetically pleasing way. The work is strong, elegant and tells the story of who these people are and their goals and aspirations they wish to achieve in order to lead a full life.                                      CITATIONS:            "Koruru (gable Mask)." Object:. Web. 09 May 2016.                                                                                                                      "Maori Woman, Rotorua, New Zealand - Arthur James Iles - Google Cultural Institute." Maori Woman, Rotorua, New Zealand - Arthur James Iles - Google Cultural Institute. Web. 09 May 2016.                                                                                                          "Photograph, Locality Unrecorded, New Zealand, 1891 - 1930." Museum Victoria Collections. Web. 09 May 2016                                                                                                                                       "Upoko Whakairo (carved Head)." Object:. Web. 09 May 2016.                                                                                                                    "Pou Tokomanawa (carved Centre Post)." Object:. Web. 09 May 2016.                                                                                                                 "Koruru (gable Mask)." Object:. Web. 09 May 2016.

This photograph depicts an unidentified Maori woman of covered in Moko. New Zealand photographer Arthur James Iles in Rotorua in the early 20th century took this photo. This is one of a series of twenty studio portraits of Maori taken by Iles in Museum Victoria's collections. A professional photographer active during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Iles photographed a range of subjects including various local and visiting people, landscapes, historical and tourists sites. Iles's specialty was portraiture of Maori life. In the 19th century Maori culture dominated popular culture. These popular photographs included nostalgic depictions of 'beauties' and 'noble warriors' and the re-enactment of pre-contact life. Māori Culture became the new fad for postcards beginning of the 20th century however Isles had a separate agenda.He drew on established subjects, photographing senior men and young women. Iles's was married to Rebecca Elsie Utuatonga, a Maori woman, who is likely to have assisted him in his photography of young Maori women. In this photograph the woman's face is adorned with a moko ngutu [female lip tattoo] and moko kauae [female chin tattoo]. The moko appear to have been enhanced by the photographer for aesthetic emphasis, a common practice in studio portraiture of this type. Moko often referenced whakapapa [genealogical lines] and acknowledged the status and rank of a person. They were also a form of personal adornment. The woman is wearing a kahu kiwi [kiwi feather cloak]. Kahu huruhuru [feather cloaks] became popular in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Of these, the kahu kiwi were the most highly regarded. Feathers decorate the woman's hair. The white feathers are possibly kotuku (white heron or Ardea alba modesta). The black and white feather is the distinctive tail feather of the now extinct huia (Heteralocha acutirostris). Traditionally such head ornamentation was reserved for people of high rank. In order to meet the expectations of the non-indigenous market, however, photographers endeavoured to accentuate the cultural differences of their subjects. Thus, sitters were often dressed in all of their cultural ornamentation. "Maori Woman, Rotorua, New Zealand - Arthur James Iles - Google Cultural Institute." Maori Woman, Rotorua, New Zealand - Arthur James Iles - Google Cultural Institute. Web. 09 May 2016.
This photograph depicts Tuterei Karewa of the Ngatimaru tribe, North Island, New Zealand. It was taken by the New Zealand photographer Arthur James Iles. It is one of a series of twenty studio portraits of Maori taken by Iles in Museum Victoria's collections. A professional photographer active during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Iles photographed a range of subjects including people, landscapes, historical and tourist sites as well as indigenous flora and fauna. Iles's specialisation was portraiture, particularly of the Maori population. Maori life had been a common subject among photographers since the 1850s. Popular with the non-Indigenous population, several categories of Maori pictures dominated the market. These included nostalgic depictions of 'beauties' and 'noble warriors' and the re-enactment of pre-contact life. The emergence of postcards around the beginning of the 20th century resulted in a resurgence in the production of photographs of Maori. A business man, Iles recognised this renewed interest in Maori culture. He drew on established subjects, photographing senior men and young women. Iles's efforts to attract Maori to his studios were aided by two factors. Firstly his association with Captain Gilbert Mair, a highly regarded captain of Maori troops loyal to the colonial government, facilitated visits by Maori community. Secondly, his marriage to Rebecca Elsie Utuatonga, a Maori woman, is likely to have assisted him to encourage young women to be photographed. In this photograph, Tuterei Karewa is adorned with a full face moko [Maori tattoo]. The moko appears to have been enhanced by the photographer for aesthetic emphasis, a common practice in studio portraiture of this type. Moko often referenced whakapapa [genealogical lines] and acknowledged the status and rank of a person. They were also a form of personal adornment. Tuterei Karewa is dressed in a pihepihe. A style of kakahu [Maori cloak], pihepihe are decorated with pokinikini or cylindrical flax tags. The chequered effect of the tags is created by scraping away the surface skin of the flax at regular intervals to reveal the muka [flax fibre] inside. The garment is woven together and dyed, often in paru [mud rich in iron oxide]. The exposed fibres absorb the dye creating the tonal variation. "Photograph, Locality Unrecorded, New Zealand, 1891 - 1930." Museum Victoria Collections. Web. 09 May 2016
It appears that this upoko whakairo (carved head) was once mounted onto a base for a waka huia (treasure box) by a keen collector (see this object below). It is unknown when this occurred or when the two objects were eventually separated. The upoko whakairo's eyes are missing pāua (New Zealand abalone) shell inlay, suggesting closed eyes. The face has a full moko (customary Māori tattoo), with notable exceptions - one half of the tītī (the forehead markings) is missing, as well as the hūpē (the cleft from the nose to the upper lip). The kauae (chin) is also relatively uncarved. There are three fragments of mother-of-pearl shell fixed in the mouth cavity to imitate teeth. The head has been fixed with wall-hang mounts and has a gum label attached with the following inscription: 'Broght [sic] home by Geo. Bennett of Yeovil & given to Mrs Pizey of Bath 1826. (Originally cut and mounted on base of a Feather Box by a European of the period.). N 628 A with F.B.' "Upoko Whakairo (carved Head)." Object:. Web. 09 May 2016.
This pou (carved figure) comes from a poutokomanawa - the central pole of one of the three supporting posts within a wharenui or whare tupuna (Māori ancestral house). His face is decorated with a full facial moko (tattoo); his eyes are pāua (New Zealand abalone) shell inserts. His body is completely carved in the front, while his back is undecorated except for the carved legs. His right hand holds a wahaika (short-bladed weapon used in hand to hand combat) and he wears a piupiu (flax skirt). WharenuiWharenui are iconic symbols of Māori customs, genealogical ties, identity, and social bonds. The houses, elegantly and elaborately carved, contain the memorialised representations of ancestors from which the people who belong to the house are directly descended. The practice of ancestral representation within wharenui comes with its own protocols and sacred associations. The representation of an ancestor is more than a signifier of that person, it is considered as potent as if the ancestor remained standing in front of you. "Pou Tokomanawa (carved Centre Post)." Object:. Web. 09 May 2016.
This large, figuratively decorated kōruru or parata (gable mask) was carved with metal chisels, probably in the mid to late 19th century. The proportions of the face are exaggerated, with a large, pronounced forehead, broad nose, expansive eyelids over small ovoid eyes, and tiny ears. The mouth suggests a smile and the expression is that of a young, male face. Part of his moko (Māori customary tattoo) above the top lip is incomplete or missing. This kōruru is unusual because it is carved figuratively. There is a generally accepted convention that customary carving on whare tupuna were usually abstract representations. This particular kōruru breaks with that custom. KōruruWe do not know much about this particular kōruru, its origins or the people to whom it belonged. Kōruru are architectural features on large whare tupuna or wharenui (meeting houses) that join the two front facing maihi (barge boards) at the top apex. A kōruru's face is also the face of the represented tupuna (ancestor) embodied in the carved constructed form of the whare tūpuna. "Koruru (gable Mask)." Object:. Web. 09 May 2016.
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