Maori ceremonial wooden ko to star in Bonhams sale

A Maori ceremonial wooden digging step, known as a ko, will star in a sale at Bonhams.

It carries an estimate of $40,000-60,000 ahead of an African and Oceanic art sale in Los Angeles on December 2.

Maori ko digging
The Maori ko was used to prepare gardens for growing sweet potatoes

The auction house explains: "This is a ceremonial step for a digging step or ko.

"Ko were used to dig the ground before the planting of kumara (sweet potatoes)…

"The ko (presented here) has been made with stone tools probably in the 18th century. The style and information conveyed by the carving are that it was made in the Ngati Kahungunu tribal area of Hawke Bay on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand."

The name and the story of the figure invoked in the design have sadly been lost to the passage of time.

A 19th century Maori paddle is another highlight, with a valuation of $30,000-40,000.

The lot was produced by the master carver Anaha Te Rahui (1821-1913) of the Ngati Tarawhai tribe and showcases his exceptional eye for detail.

It displays a rare instance of the female wheku figure on the handle.

The auction house comments: "This paddle is one of the finest works from the oeuvre of Maori carvings by a known hand."

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