Traditional New Zealand necklace bone has some serious cultural significance and dates back thousands of years in terms of its use. The designs and meanings may have changed over time but these beautiful jewellery item are still treasured by the Maori and beloved for the spiritual meaning that they convey. Historically, New Zealand necklace bone has been carved into a range of shapes with symbolic meaning and is a powerful part of the cultural identity of the indigenous people of the nation.
So, if you’re interest in New Zealand necklace bone symbolism, what are some of the common designs you can expect to come across and what do they mean?
New Zealand necklace bone symbolism
Before we get into the symbols you might expect to find, we should think about why they are so popular in Maori culture. Maoris symbolism is extremely common in New Zealand necklace bone carvings and other art forms because it was a way for Maori’s to communicate their history orally and through art at a time when they had no written language. The symbols found in New Zealand necklace bone, carvings, murals and many other artworks tell a story and connect to the cultural beliefs of the people. Each symbol has a particular meaning that it communicates and may relate to specific Maori myths and legends. There are many different Maori symbols that are still in regular use today but the most common ones you’ll see include the koru (spiral symbol), tiki (humanoid figure), matu (hook shape) and pikorua (twist shape).
Koru is the Maori term for the unfurling fern frond. The symbol is represented as a circular spiral shape and is meant to be representative of new life. The meaning can also extend to new beginnings, a fresh start, or even personal growth. A more spiritual interpretation of the symbol can see it be representative of nurturing, tranquillity, awakening and change. This symbol is popular not just in New Zealand necklace bone carvings but also in tattoos and other forms of art.
The concept of Tiki is Polynesian in origin. Its exact meaning isn’t known, but Tiki is generally believed to be the first ever man to reach Earth. It is believed he came from the stars and created woman based on his image. The symbol is generally considered the symbolise fertility and is frequently show with hands around the loins to show this meaning. It is often used as a good luck charm when used in a New Zealand necklace bone carving. The symbol is often interpreted as a way to appreciate ancestors and carvings of it are seen to be a way to pass down the ancestral spirit and knowledge throughout many generations.
The fish hook is a very common symbol in Maori culture. It is symbolic of prosperity and good luck and was used by seafarers for safety when travelling over water. The symbol became so prominent because fish was so important to the diets of the native people back in the day.
The twist is a very common symbol that can stand for the bond between people and cultures. It is known as the eternity symbol sometimes and is popular for signifying the bond between lovers, friends and families. Triple twist designs are generally used to show the intertwined nature of different groups of people and culture. These are powerful symbols of working together.
These are just some of the symbols that you might come across when looking for carvings. There are many other with diverse and interesting meanings.