Since time long, art has been the measure of civilization. Art thrives when people are happy – when their basic needs are fulfilled and when they think of beyond the basic essential but mundane things. The cave drawings and etchings by the cave dwellers that have remained preserved for centuries tell us the life and history of that era and that civilization. Each civilization, each country has exclusive sculpture, paintings and other works of art that look distinctive and are examples of the specialties of the materials and cultural themes that belong to that country. Look at the Italian marble stature, frescoes and artefacts. The Carrara marbles and mythological figures depicted are exclusive to that country.
Likewise the French are famous for their paintings and artwork that draw huge crowds today to Versailles Museum. The Indian bronzes and stone sculptures are as much famous as the Chinese jade and Ming vases. Likewise Maoris work a lot with pounamu – a green stone making jewelry and other artefacts. Woven baskets and bone and stone carvings are also famous here.
Maori tattoos and masks are as famous as wood, jade and bone carvings. Religion, history and tradition are the themes often depicted in the carvings. For the Maori people art bridges this world and the spiritual world and they believe that the Gods speak to them through art. Some oft repeated symbols are like the spirals, twists and fish hooks – worn for good luck.
The Maori Manaia and the Maori Tiki are two very popular mythical beings who are depicted in sculpture, carving and painting etc according to the tradition of various Maori tribes.
The Manaia is believed to have great spiritual powers, guarding against evil and enemies. The Tiki brings luck and is a fertility symbol – considered to depict the first mortal on earth. The most popular Maori handicrafts are their bone jewelry, which is supposed to gives special powers to wearers.
New Zealand is justly famous internationally for the exquisite woollen garments made there. The handmade merino woollen shawls and sweaters are as eagerly sought after as their sheepskin jackets and various other handicrafts.