A Maori gable figure

A powerfully carved male, Tekoteko, or gable figure, an architectural element from the roof of a ceremonial meetinghouse or Marae.

Provenance: Ex collection Simon Spierer, Geneva; Adrian Schlag, Brussels; Daniel Hourdé, Paris; Private Collection, NY.

The flattened, frontal figure offers a strongly sculpted body and features in the aggressive Polynesian Stance camped with legs a part and slightly bent, three fingered hands held to the stomach, and the head sitting low on the wide neck. The sculptor has used here all the available breadth of the wood to block out the squared head, shoulders, arms and legs widening the figure to offer maximum visibility. The face is organized to focus on the three main components of the squinting slanted eyes, the wide nose, and the open mouth with the aggressive extended tongue. The figure wears a unique form of four-pointed crown and there is a frontal knob at the center of the forehead. The Tekoteko stands on an elongated shaft carved in full relief with seven down curving hooks. The ocular, nasal and oral cavities are cut through, creating openings through which could stream sunlight. This is a very special and unique effect known on only two other Tekoteko (ex Pierre Verité collection, Paris; Volkerkunde Museum, Berlin). Maori, New Zealand, Polynesia. Wood (Kauri Pine : Agathis australis) with a fine patina of age, exposure and wear. 74 cm. 18th/19th century.