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In the past, the Maori carefully preserved their ancestors' skulls, and works such as this rare example may have been a substitute for a lost or damaged skull. The relief represents the tattoo patterns (moko) of the individual depicted. Tattooing was a mark of prestige among the Maori....

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Provenance

Given to the MFA by William and Bertha Teel in 1994. Purchased from Wayne Heathcote, December 1992. Formerly in Manoogian Collection, Detroit.

Credit Line

Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel

Maori peoples, North Island, New Zealand, mid-19th to early 20th century

Dimensions

20.32 cm (8 in.)

Accession Number

1994.424

Medium or Technique

Wood

Collections

Africa and Oceania

Classifications

Sculpture