Tau-rapa (war canoe stern-piece) by Unknown Artist

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


Wood & haliotis shell
210 x 30 cm
Art Fund grant:
£35 ( Total: £35)
Acquired in:
A D Passmore

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.

Venue details

British Museum Great Russell Street, LONDON London WC1B 3DG 020 7323 8181 www.britishmuseum.org

Entry details

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