The Hawaiian Bone Artwork.
Bone carving is a traditional and often sacred craft practiced by some of the more warlike native tribes around the world. Bone carvings by the Hawaiians and the New Zealand Maori are some of the most beautiful wearable art works available today and come in a wide variety of styles from very traditional pieces to the more contemporary or modern styles.
Pendants, jewellery and various tools such as needles, spear tips and fish hooks made from bone developed into a fine art form with great importance being placed on every piece, many of which took years to make using stone tools.
It is believed that a carving which is worn with respect or given and received with love, takes on part of the spirit of those who wear or handle it. In this way it becomes a spiritual link between people spanning time and distance. A carving that has been worn by family or tribal members over many generations contains the spirit of all of those people and is truly a great and powerful treasure
Every carving has a very special meaning or story behind its design.
The closed circle is said to represent the circle of life which is has no beginning or end, is seamless and of which we are all a part. It also tells of the stars and planets which are part of the circle of life and contain the knowledge of our origins. It is often used to enclose other elements such as the Koru, linking love and new life or new beginnings with the circle of life. For an artist the circle represents the relationship or oneness between the artist and his craft, bringing together head, hand and heart.
Creatures of the Oceans: (Whales, Dolphins and Turtles:)
The ocean has always been the dominant force for the Hawaiian/Maori people who traveled huge distances in their long canoes and lived on the bounty of the tropical waters. They had a great respect for the creatures on the sea and in particular dolphins and whales The whale with its great size and obvious intelligence were often represented as an example of family love with mother and calf always side by side and touching at every opportunity.
Beached whales were treasured as gifts from the gods. They were particularly prized for the bone which after several years of curing was used to carve ornate jewelry and art works, often passed down for many generations.
A dolphin is s symbol of playfulness, harmony and friendship while the turtle is the sign of a navigator
Hei-Matau (Hooks) :
These very stylised fish hook bone carvings or pendants represent prosperity,abundance, fertility, strength. and a great respect for the sea. They are also seen as good luck charms, particularly for those traveling over water. Hei-Matau are symbols of power and authority which are held in great reverence by the Hawaiian/Maori people. They were used as a practical tool for fishing and were often decorated as a sign of respect for the creatures of the sea.
The Koru, represents the fern frond as it opens bringing new life and purity to the world. It also represents peace, tranquility and spirituality, along with a strong sense of regrowth or new beginnings. The Koru is also often associated with nurturing so when interlocked with others is frequently used to represent the strength and purity of a loving relationship within a family. The Koru is often intertwined with other forms such as twists and matau to tell a very special and powerful story
The Manaia is an ancient mythical being with a birds head and a human form. It is said to be the messenger between the earthly world of mortals and the domain of the spirits. The Manaia is a holder of great spiritual energy and is a guardian against evil. It can be seen blended into many Hawaiian/Maori designs with subtle differences between tribes.
The Manaia is often depicted with the three fingers of birth, life and death. It can also be shown with a fourth finger representing the afterlife and describing the circle of life.
The twist with its crisscross form represents the many paths of life and love and as such is regarded as the original eternity symbol. The single twist in particular shows the joining together of two people for eternity. Even though they sometimes move away from each other on their own journeys, they will always come together again sharing their lives and blending to become one. It tells how the strength of bond of friendship, loyalty and love will last forever. The double and triple twists have a similar meaning but refer more to the joining of two peoples or cultures rather than individuals. They also refer the the three baskets of knowledge.