Wood with abalone shell
Overall: 17.2 cm (6 3/4 in.)
The Mary Spedding Milliken Memorial Collection, Gift of William Mathewson Milliken 1961.405
Decorated with low-relief spiral designs and small carved figures at each end, the treasure box was used to store ornaments worn by chiefs: feathers of the huia bird, combs, and pendants (hei-tiki). Because the heads and necks of high-ranking Maori chiefs were tapu, or sacred, their personal adornments were dangerous to children or individuals of lower rank. Treasure boxes were therefore hung from the rafters of the chief's house. Boxes like this one were in use when Captain Cook visited New Zealand in 1769-70.
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