Less well known are a range of neck pendants worn as items of personal adornment and status that mirrored other natural forms. These include the pekapeka pendants named after a native type of bat and the hei matau pendants that follow the stylised form of a traditional Maori hook (matau). Both were prized and a sign of high rank in Maori society.
The Maori used pounamu to make tools and jewellery. Offered together at Piers Motley (18% buyer’s premium) in Exmouth, Devon on June 19 were a hei matau with serrated edge and an 11in (27cm) chisel or pendant with a pierced hole to one end.
They carried no cast iron provenance –they were found when clearing the home of a local family with Royal Navy connections – but a long colonial history dictates that artefacts such as this still survive in the UK in number.
The visible signs of wear suggested a 19th century or earlier date. Pre-sale interest suggested they would far surpass the £100-150 estimate and so it proved when, against online competition from a UK bidder, the pendant sold via the saleroom.com to a buyer in Virginia at £5200.