Bowls of this scale were often carved by master artists whose skill was a source of pride to the village and were given as gifts to dignitaries who had travelled great distances to attend a ceremony. The designs on the bowl are twin eagles, a primary Tlingit moiety; whereas the carved jade kuri (native dog) Maori design could be a reference to our wolf, a sub-crest related to the eagle. The creation of this work was planned at a distance with the glass and jade carved independently — the result was a pleasant surprise in reality.
This wakahuia (container - vessel) form was often beautifully carved and used to retain or store items of importance. These taonga (treasures) could be tangible but in many cases are intangible, like memories. The designs on this vessel honour the memories of the extinct eagle and kuri of Aotearoa and are a reminder of the ongoing threat to all wildlife in the world. The Hokioi, the largest eagle that ever lived, once inhabited the mountainous regions in South Island. It became extinct when its natural prey, the Moa, a large flightless bird, was hunted to extinction by Maori. The kuri was also very important in Maori society and was revered as a hunter, discoverer, companion and valued possession to highly ranked ancestors. The kuri, even in its passing, was still a prized possession, eaten, and worn as a kahukuri (dog skin cloak) as a sign of mana (prestige).
Collaboration for the Fire & Water: Pacific Visions in Glass and Jade exhibition, 2007.
Collaborations between great artists are historically rare, despite frequent attempts and enthusiastic interest to bring technical skills and artistic chemistry together. In the end, it often seems that personal careers, distance, and other issues make these projects too difficult to realize. What makes this particular collaboration even more remarkable is that the two artists are geographically in different hemispheres — almost at polar opposites of the world.
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