Maori Art Research Paper

Pages: 4 (1279 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Art  (general)

As such, there has not been any way to yet find what a large set of carvings may mean. One particularly interesting argument suggests that the Mako was a way of separating the Maori men and women from the realm of life and death. As it had a holy significance, the carvings could have been either a source of protection from death or a means of being unified with the dead (Gathercole 177). Since each of the various Maori tribes had a different set of symbols, it would be quite difficult to translate since a similar icon could mean a very many different things depending upon who it was that was asked of from what tribe that person belonged.

As the art world has expanded, museums and art collectors have become interested in amassing collections of art which include historic artifacts. There are examples of Maori carvings in locations where the original creators of the pieces could never have envisioned. Rather than religiously import artifacts, sculptures of the Maori culture are placed upon shelves and pedestals, given the same importance as a painting from the Renaissance or an installment from the modern art movement, but they are given no more. The religious and cultural import of the piece has been completely erased and instead it is only appreciated in terms of the aesthetic.

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In the article "The Maori Carver" by R.W. Firth, he describes the way that the artifacts from the Maori culture are looked upon as pieces of art rather than as artifacts of an ancient culture. This, the author argues, is completely inappropriate because this removes the Maori items from their historical context and thus deprives them of meaning besides the aesthetic. Firth writes:

In order to appreciate the full value of the art it is necessary to study it not only in Museum show-cases, where it is as a thing dead and set apart, but also as far as possible in its original and natural setting in the villages and homes of the people, where it is full of life and character (1).

Research Paper on Maori Art the Maori Are Assignment

This is an important perspective because it highlights the difficulty between appreciating an artifact for its beauty and understanding a work in light of its cultural, historical, and sociological context.

The Maori culture is exemplified by the art that was created, just as art of any culture fulfills the role as historian and works as testimony to their culture. For the Maori, the process called Mako which is the carving of the skin of people of the Maori culture, was a symbol of their culture and served as a representation of what was important to them. That ancient culture could never have guessed that modern peoples would take items that were of sacred and holy importance to them and to display them for the entire world to see. Based upon the way they treated even the scraps from their wood carvings, it is highly unlikely that they would have appreciated their icons being treated as art installations.

Works Cited:

Archey, Gilbert. "Evolution of Certain Maori Carving Patterns." The Journal of the Polynesian

Society. 42:3(167). Print.

Firth, R.W. "The Maori Carver." The Journal of the Polynesian Society. 34:4. 136. 1925. Print.

Gathercole, Peter. "Context of Maroi Moko." 171-177. Print.

Hamilton, Augustus. The Art Workmanship of the Maori Race in New Zealand: a Series of Illustrations from Specially Taken Photographs, with Descriptive Notes and Essays on the Canoes, Habitations, Weapons, Ornaments, and Dress of the Maoris, Together with Lists of Words in the Maori Language Used in Relation to the Subjects. --. Dunedin, N.Z.: Printed and Published for the Board of Governors [of the New Zealand Institute] by Fergusson & Mitchell, 1896. Print.

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How to Cite "Maori Art" Research Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Maori Art.  (2011, December 15).  Retrieved February 25, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Maori Art."  15 December 2011.  Web.  25 February 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Maori Art."  December 15, 2011.  Accessed February 25, 2021.