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Object: Kaka poria (bird leg ring / pendant)

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Title Kaka poria (bird leg ring / pendant)
Production Unknown (carver), 1700-1850, New Zealand
Medium summary Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) source
Materials tangiwai
Classification traps, pendants
Technique direct carving
Dimensions Overall: 45mm (Length) x 35mm (Width) x 3.2mm (Depth)
Credit line Purchased 1907
Registration number ME001622

Käkä pöria are small leg rings usually fashioned from bone or stone materials. They were used to confine the movements of young käkä (Nestor meridionalis) parrots, which, after being caught, were held prisoner by the leg rings. The captured käkä became tame and were then referred to as mökai (captive or pet). During the fowling season, these pet käkä were taken into the forests where they were made to cry out to attract wild birds. Wild käkä, being curious and sociable, were attracted in great numbers by the tame birds' cries.

Snaring methods
As the wild birds alighted on nearby branches, the mökai handlers would be lying in wait with mutu käkä (snares for parrots). Some birds would alight on a snare's carefully arranged horizontal perch, and a cord would be jerked trapping the legs of the birds against the protruding upright of the mutu käkä. The wild birds were summarily dispatched and bagged for the journey home.

Fine pendants
Käkä pöria, when not attached to the legs of tame birds, were worn as pendants. Some, especially those fashioned from pounamu (New Zealand greenstone), required sophisticated technical knowledge to make because of the hardness of the material and the finely carved details such as the holes on the outer edges that accommodate the cord. Käkä pöria often became valued family heirlooms and were passed down from generation to generation.

Related information

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