Title / object name
Heru (ornamental comb)
|Maker ||Role ||Date |
|Unknown ||carver ||1500-1800 |
wood, paua shell
|Overall ||102 (Height) x 55 (Length) x 6 (Depth) mm|
heru, hair ornaments, combs
Gift of The Imperial Institute, 1955
This heru (ornamental comb) is made from wood. It has twenty-three teeth, a carved manaia (stylised beaked figure) head with inlaid päua (large New Zealand abalone with blue-green inner shell) shell eyes, and a light brown patina. It may have been collected by Captain James Cook on one of his three visits to New Zealand in 1769, 1773 and 1777.
Mäori men traditionally kept long hair that was oiled and sometimes braided, and dressed upon their heads in elaborate topknots. These were augmented with heru and bird feathers, particularly feathers from the now extinct hüia (native New Zealand bird: Heteralocha acutirostris).