|Wood carver's whalebone mallet showing wear from use on the surface area © Pitt Rivers Museum|
Today a Maori carver's toolkit will contain a wide range of metal chisels but early carvings were made using stone tools. Chisels made from greenstone nephrite (pounamu) were particularly popular for fine work. When examining old carvings it is difficult to tell whether nephrite or metal tools were used, as both produce similar cuts.
|Stone chisels including one of greenstone nephrite (top). |
From top to bottom PRM 1923.87.45, 1921.93.233 and 1927.73.5 © Pitt Rivers Museum
If you want to find out more about Maori wood carving I have suggested some reading material below. You can also read about the history of wood carving, plus see the work of contemporary carvers, on the website of the Te Puia Maori Wood Carving School.
Senior Assistant Curator
Suggested Further Reading:
Neich, Roger, 2001, Carved Histories, New Zealand: Auckland University Press.
Neich, Roger, 1996, 'Wood Carving' in Maori Art and Culture, D.C. Starzecka (editor), London: British Museum Press.
Paama-Pengelly, 2010, Maori Art and Design, New Zealand: New Holland Publishers.