This carved wooden stern-ornament of a Maori canoe depicting two ribs, scroll-work and two human figures.

It is of unusual height and an excellent example of Maori art. The Maoris considered canoes to represent the body of an ancestor and to be highly sacred. The imposing end piece includes the prescribed elements of two ribs, scroll-work and two human figures. One of the figures faces forward, as though to cover the attack and one faces behind for defence. Stern-pieces like these were decorated with feathers and streamers. Contact with a canoe was restricted to men, specifically to carvers and warriors.

British Museum

Great Russell Street, London, Greater London, WC1B 3DG
020 7323 8181

Opening times

Daily, 10am – 5.30pm (Fri until 8.30pm) Closed 24 – 26 Dec and 1 Jan