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Pendants as earrings kuru

Pendants as earrings kuru

Place: New Zealand
Category: Jewellery & adornment

human teeth, plant fibre, New Zealand, l. 3 cm; l. 3.5 cm, Inv. Oz 296, 297

Humphrey No. 59: ‘An Ear-Ornament formed of five human Teeth strung on a plaited Cord, worn by the Cannibals of Charlotte Sound, New Zealand.’ (= Oz 296)

Forster Register C. 14 (?): ‘a form of rosary for prayer; made of teeth’. (= Oz 297)

Earrings made of five (Oz 296) and four (Oz 297) human teeth, with holes drilled through at the root ends, hanging from a plaited ring.

Forster mentioned the purchase of ornaments with human teeth in Queen Charlotte Sound on 1 June 1773: ‘In addition to the tighi or instead of the same, some wore many strings of rowed human teeth. They considered these in no way as priceless as stated in the description of Captain Cook’s previous voyage; instead they sold them gladly in exchange for iron tools or other trifles’ (Forster 1778/80, I: 165). Apparently, alternative to hei tiki breast ornaments, the description here also refers to breast ornaments and not ear ornaments. Markus Schindlbeck


Forster, Georg, Johann Reinhold Forster’s Reise um die Welt, wahrend den Jahren 1772-1775 in dem ... durch Capitain Cook gefuehrten Schiffe the Resolution unternommen, Berlin 1778/80.

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