Image by/from Museopedia

A poupou is really a wall panel located beneath the veranda of the Maori wharenui (meeting house). It’s generally created to represent the spiritual link between the tribe as well as their ancestors and therefore each poupou is created with emblems from the tohunga whakairo’s (carver’s) particular lineage. The poupou can also be decorated with representations from the tribe’s ancestral history, legends and migration tales to Nz. As a result each wharenui, by extension the poupou, therefore are given the most respect, as though it were an ancestor.

For Maori the opportunity to carve wooden crafts is both a spiritual and intellectual endeavour.

The tohunga whakairo needed to be well experienced in the tribal lineage and history to carve something which was commemorative of his ancestors. Simultaneously particularly among the traditionalists, he needed to be aware from the proper protocols. For instance, in traditional occasions, the tohunga whakairo never blew the shavings of his work or even the ancestors would curse the piece. In other instances, if he permitted women or food near his work the mana (spiritual power) could be destroyed.

Within the contemporary period Maori carvers have battled to keep exactly the same traditional protocol inside a condition that is more and more Westernised. Consequently, today, many Maori make an effort to resurge traditional patterns and carvings within mainstream art through programs such as the Maori Crafts and arts Institute. They’ve managed to get their pursuit to preserve traditional toi whakairo, and also have opened up various programs and classes to pass through their traditions to more youthful generations.

Based on Sidney Mead’s The skill of Carving, you will find three classical styles typically utilized in Maori carvings:

The poupou in the Royal Ontario Museum is made within the nineteenth century. It had been built-in design for the Te Ati Awa people from the North Island of recent Zealand. It features a brownish complexion as opposed to the traditional black, white-colored and red pigments.

It’s presently being displayed within the Oceania exhibit around the third floor from the Royal Ontario Museum. It’s housed among many other Polynesian, Micronesian, and Australian indigenous artifacts like tapa or siapo cloths and Polynesian weaponry.