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Gable Mask (Koruru)

Arts of the Pacific Islands

The Maori believed certain structures—communal meeting houses, the houses of chiefs, and some food storage buildings—symbolized the body of an important ancestor, with the ridgepole indicating the backbone, the rafters the ribs, and the slanting facade boards the arms. Placed at the apex of the gable, the gable mask depicts the face of the honored ancestor.

MEDIUM Wood, paua shell
DATES ca. 1860
DIMENSIONS 19 7/8 x 10 3/4 x 1 7/8 in. (50.5 x 27.3 x 4.8 cm)  (show scale)
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
ACCESSION NUMBER 03.217
CREDIT LINE Brooklyn Museum Collection
RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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CAPTION Possibly Maori (Ngati Porou). Gable Mask (Koruru), ca. 1860. Wood, paua shell, 19 7/8 x 10 3/4 x 1 7/8 in. (50.5 x 27.3 x 4.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Museum Collection, 03.217. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 03.217_PS9.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 03.217_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2013
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Carved wooden ornament for a house gable in the form of a human face with pieces of paua shell inserted in the eyes; richly carved. In stable condition. Cracking overall with minor losses along the crack lines. Notable areas of old losses include: on bottom edge of proper left side of chin, two on proper right side of lower lip, above proper right tooth, on central tooth, and on center of the proper left brow. There are pencil marks and numerous mounting holes on the back of the mask.
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