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“Paratene Te Manu” by Gottfried Lindauer

Paratene Te Manu, by Gottfried Lindauer

“Paratene Te Manu” by Gottfried Lindauer depicts a Maori with his ‘Tā moko’.  Paratene Te Manu was one of 14 Māori who visited England in 1863. They met Queen Victoria, appearing before her in traditional clothing and ornaments. Tā moko is the permanent body and face markings developed by the Māori. Unlike tattoos, Tā moko is carved by chisels in the skin rather than punctured. This left the skin with grooves, rather than a smooth surface.

Captain James Cook wrote in 1769:

“The marks, in general, are spirals drawn with great nicety and even elegance. One side corresponds with the other. The marks on the body resemble foliage in old chased ornaments, convolutions of filigree work, but in these, they have such a luxury of forms that of a hundred which at first appeared exactly the same no two were formed alike on close examination.”

The Māori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand, where a prominent warrior culture emerged. The Māori originated with settlers from eastern Polynesia, who arrived in New Zealand during multiple canoe voyages between 1250 and 1300. In relative isolation, the New Zealand Polynesians developed a unique culture that became known as “Māori”, with their own language, a mythology, distinctive crafts and performing arts.

The artist, Gottfried Lindauer, (1839 – 1926) was a Bohemian artist who migrated to New Zealand and becomes famous for his portraits, including many of Māori people. He left his homeland in 1874 to avoid being drafted to the Austrian military service. In New Zealand, many prominent Māori chiefs commissioned his work, which accurately records their tattoos, clothing, ornaments and weapons.

Essential Facts:

  • Exhibit:                  Paratene Te Manu
  • Medium:                Oil on canvas
  • Date:                       1890’s
  • Dimensions:          834 x 714 x 50 mm
  • Museum:               Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Artist Essential Facts:

  • Name:                    Gottfried Lindauer
  • Born:                     1839 – Pilsen, Bohemia, now the Czech Republic
  • Died:                      1926 (aged 87) – Woodville, Wellington, New Zealand

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“As man disappears from sight, the land remains.” Maori Proverb

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Photo Credit: Gottfried Lindauer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons