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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, pāua 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)
INSCRIPTIONS "03.217" written in black on back of head; blue-rimmed label reads: "Carved Mask, from Paus[sp?], or Maori Chiefs House - (very old) New-Zealand"
CREDIT LINE Brooklyn Museum Collection
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Carved wooden ornament for a house gable in the form of a human face with pieces of pāua shell inserted in the eyes; richly carved
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Maori. Gable Mask (Koruru), ca. 1860. Wood, pāua 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
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