Fantastic Maori Feather Box Hiding In Haslemere Property
This Maori Treasure Box Or Feather Box Is a beautiful example and very sought after piece of Polynesian art and has become extremely collectable globally by tribal art lovers – This authentic item was found and valued for probate in a property in Haslemere recently for a client who lives in nearby Godalming
The Maori Feather Box or Treasure Box is superb example of how well Polynesian Artists created these lovely containers. This form of tribal art is extremely collectable and are still appearing for sale regularly in Tribal art and Pacific art auctions.
The Maori Feather Box pictured is a genuine piece however these type of feather boxes have been recorded to have been faked on several occasions by James Edward Little (1876 – 1953) an antiques dealer and tribal art restorer who resided and worked in Torquay England specialized in selling and making Polynesian and Tribal Art. His forgeries were good enough to fool museum directors, specialist collectors and scholars. His master plan was to steal then copy the originals from important museums make exact copies then sell the real examples on. His carving and skill at making these objects was amazing but the same can’t be said for his skill as a thief as he was caught, convicted and served six months in prison in 1925 after being caught for forging a feather box he stole from a Wiltshire museum. His 100 year old forgeries still appear from time to time.
The following information on Maori Feather Boxes or Maori Treasure Boxes is a partial extract from by Charles W. Mack, which I hope you will find informative.
An extract from Polynesian Art at Auction 1965 – 1980 by Charles W. Mack
“Treasure boxes , were favorite collectables of Europeans, pakeha , visitors to New Zealand. Their size made them convenient to to collect and carry back to Europe, where they served as useful storage containers, such as sewing baskets. No doubt the graphic depiction of the sexual coupling – so persuasive in Maori Art – incorporated in the carving of these boxes served also to titillate the fancy of the Victorian Europeans”
Mid way through the 19th century the Maori’s making high numbers of Feather Boxes to sell to the foreigners as well as for their own use. These delightful Treasure or Feather Boxes were originally meant to store the very rare black and white tail feathers of the Wattlebird or in Maori the Huia bird and worn by high were worn by both male and female as a symbol of social rank by the high-born. Maori’s often placed tobacco leaves in the boxes to repel insects upon the arrival of the tobacco plant in New Zealand, this was to stop insects from eating the feathers. Hei-Tiki, Greenstone and other valuable personal items were also stored in the Feather box.
The most obvious stylistic difference in the overall form of these boxes is that some are clearly rectangular while others are oval. Many people consider the rectangular boxes to be of an earlier form than the more common oval ones. However in the British Museum there are two waka huia – one rectangular and the other oval- collected by Captain Cook in the 1770’s. It is evident then that both the oval and rectangular forms are pre-contact styles. In the 19th Century, the oval style of Maori feather box became more fashionable and therefore more commonly found in collections.
Author – Jeffrey Avery