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Lintel (Pare or Kōrupe)

Arts of the Pacific Islands

Unlike Turner Towers’ purely decorative “stones,” Māori and Yorùbá architectural elements both incorporate distinctive symbols to convey spiritual and secular concepts. This Māori pare (lintel) symbolizes the boundary between the realms of gods linked with war and peace. The openwork motif depicts a female figure with shell eyes (center); at left and right are manaia, hybrid beings that can navigate between human and spiritual realms. The lintel likely topped the entryway or window of a wharenui (meeting house). Other figures surmounted the building’s roof and side posts. These features of the exterior sculptural ensemble projected iwi (tribal) identity into the marae, a multipurpose outdoor gathering space.
MEDIUM Wood, pāua shell
DATES late 18th–early 19th century
DIMENSIONS 13 1/2 x 35 1/8 x 1 7/8 in. (34.3 x 89.2 x 4.8 cm)  (show scale)
INSCRIPTIONS "IX" carved in the back of the head of the central figure; "61.126" occurs twice, once in ink and once in pencil.
CREDIT LINE Frank L. Babbott Fund and Carll H. de Silver Fund
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Māori wood carving of a pare (door lintel) or a kōrupe (window lintel), likely for a wharepuni (sleeping house) or pātaka (raised storehouse). The central female figure has clasped hands, short legs and a face ornamented with pāua (abalone) shell eyes. To either side the wood is carved into nonsymmetrical small swirls and two larger manaia figures. The bottom section appears to depict a platform where there is little openwork. The work is carved on the back as well, and there is partial finished detail on the back. There is no presence of a surface coating.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Maori. Lintel (Pare or Kōrupe), late 18th–early 19th century. Wood, pāua shell, 13 1/2 x 35 1/8 x 1 7/8 in. (34.3 x 89.2 x 4.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Frank L. Babbott Fund and Carll H. de Silver Fund, 61.126. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: , 61.126_PS9.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 61.126_PS9.jpg., 2019
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