Traditional And Contemporary Carvings
New Zealand jade is often called greenstone or pounamu and is worked into beautiful jade jewelry. Pendant shapes reflect themes rooted in Maori traditions. Contemporary interpretations in individual pieces let the carver's personality shine through.
The stone is only found on the South Island in New Zealand along the West Coast in particular in the Arahura River bed. The river takes an important part in Maori mythology.
Since 1869 the river bed was reason for enduring negotiations between Maori people and the British Crown that only came to an agreement in 2002. This agreement ensured the ownership of ponamou found there in its natural state to the Ngāi Tahu tribe.
Pounamu was a prized possession with values above gold to the traditional Maori people. Using stone tools it took years to carve with great attention for detail and to finalize a piece. Handled with much respect each piece became history messenger of creator and wearer. The higher respected the wearer was the more valuable the carving became. Pendants were and are passed on through generations increasing their spiritual value accordingly. History and the powerful energy of pre-possessors was passed on which made them powerful treasures.
Items were used for trading, as a measure of richness, symbols of peace, and valuable heirlooms.
Resources of New Zealand jade are limited, for that reason master carvers resorted to use greenstones of other parts of the world. Master carvers still use traditional motifs as base but add personal and contemporary nuances to each carving.
The broad market of travel gifts is often satisfied with mass produced cheap imports of carved greenstone jewelry.
These are traditional symbols for New Zealand jade carvings.
The symbols can be singularly represented or in a combination of two or more symbols as you will see in this selection of greenstone jewelry
The koru shape symbolizes the unfurling fern frond and stands for purity, new beginnings, and change. Here are some examples in greenstone
Hei Tiki is the most ancient of designs that represents ancestors. The shape embodies the human figure. Variations and details give information about regional origin and the wearer. Some have even eye inlays with paua shells.
Crossover, twist , and infinity loop - all three symbolize the meaning of energy flow. Energy that connects two beings into one. For example the union of the physical and the spiritual world, or the bond of friendship formed by two individuals.
The Manaia carving unites the symbols of the air in form of a birds' head or eye, the earth with a human body, and the sea as it ends in a fishtail. It spiritually stands for the balance between the elements.