Maori KAKA PORIA Parrot Ring

Maori KAKA PORIA Parrot Ring

A superb KAKA PORIA, a tethering ring for the foot of a tame parrot. Maori, New Zealand, Polynesia. Nephrite. 18th/19th century. 3.5 X 2.6 cm. 

The high-ranking noble members of Maori society were recorded to have as pets tame parrots which could also have been used as hunting decoys to attract wild parrots that were eaten as a delicacy.


Provenance Provenance :
Ex coll. : James Hooper, N° H.157 (the number has been rewritten as it was partially effaced at one time). His grandson Steven Phelps (now Hooper) describes this object in his grandfather's collection as H157 " …ornament …carved as a leg ring for parrot". By descent to familly members. Sold at auction : Christie's, London, 3 July, 1990, Lot 109 for £ 1100. Acquired at the auction by Dr. & Mrs. Roth-Williams ; Ex collection Roth-Williams, Switzerland. Acquired by Galerie Meyer from Mrs Pauline Roth-Williams, France.

Literature: Ill. & pub. : Phelps, Steven: ART AND ARTEFACTS OF THE PACIFIC, AFRICA, AND THE AMERICAS-THE JAMES HOOPER COLLECTION. Hutchinson & Co. LTD. and Christies, Manson & Woods, London. 1975. N° 157, ill. : pl. 19  ; description p. : 414.

Kākā pōria are small leg rings usually fashioned from bone or stone materials. They were used to confine the movements of young kākā (Nestor meridionalis) parrots, which, after being caught, were held prisoner by the leg rings. The captured kākā became tame and were then referred to as mōkai (captive or pet). During the fowling season, these pet kākā were taken into the forests where they were made to cry out to attract wild birds. Wild kākā, being curious and sociable, were attracted in great numbers by the tame birds' cries.

Snaring methods :
As the wild birds alighted on nearby branches, the mōkai handlers would be lying in wait with mutu kākā (snares for parrots). Some birds would alight on a snare's carefully arranged horizontal perch, and a cord would be jerked trapping the legs of the birds against the protruding upright of the mutu kākā. The wild birds were summarily dispatched and bagged for the journey home.

Kākā pōria, when not attached to the legs of tame birds, were worn as pendants. Some, especially those fashioned from pounamu (New Zealand greenstone), required sophisticated technical knowledge to make because of the hardness of the material and the finely carved details such as the holes on the outer edges that accommodate the cord. Kākā pōria often became valued family heirlooms and were passed down from generation to generation.