Bone carvings such as pendants, hair ornaments, fish hooks, flutes and weapons have always been very important in Maori Culture. Great value is placed on excellence of workmanship for its important role in pleasing the Spirit World. In these designs the principal design concept is to create shapes and cut outs which balance each other. Thus the bone shape represents the Ira Tangata, or physical element and the cut out represents the Ira Atua, or Spiritual element. By making these spaces into pleasing shapes, we, the viewers, are pleased on two levels.We are reminded to look for this balance in many ways shown here as solid and cutout; as front and back, or as smooth and textured. Often these cut out shapes are stylised Koru, a design based on the new fern frond. This is rolled up spirally and bursts exuberantly into life in a way that is then used to represent any of the positive aspects of life. So that the cut out shape can also be assigned a personal meaning for a person, an event or a place whose memory we wish to keep with us. The wearer becomes one with this Spirit shape because they are what the world sees through that cut out.
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