Item number: 5344
A Rare Early 19th Century New Zealand Maori Fishing Lure,’Pa Kahawai’
Ex English Private Collection
In Maori culture the activity of fishing transcended practical necessity as a valuable source of food, considered a ‘tapu’, it was a sacred and spiritual pursuit involving ritual and following strict rules, demonstrating not only the sense of profound respect the Maori people felt for their environment but also their intelligence and insightfulness in regard to protecting it and sustaining their way of life. The whole process was cleverly regulated to ensure bountiful harvests with minimal disruption and unhindered natural replenishment of their chosen quarry.
Early European visitors clearly recognised and were impressed by the degree of competence displayed by the islanders in their fishing endeavours, some being compelled to record in contemporary journals the native inhabitants impressive superiority over them, in skill, equipment and knowledge which had passed through generations of this ancient culture, being practiced and honed to perfection.
This large early trolling lure is a truly superb example, with well formed barbed bone hook and muka binding, the Paua shell inlay to in-curve, perfect for enticing large predatory fish with its natural reflective qualities when dragged through the ocean. An old collection label to the reverse of the fine wooden body, marked in handwritten ink, ‘Maori Fish Hook, 15 July’
Height: 12.5cm, Width: 2.5cm (At widest point)