This greenstone pendant is characteristic of the Maori, a polynesian tribe who settled New Zealand. The carved figure is human with an oversized head tilted to one side, arms resting on knees, and legs bent inward with his feet touching. Greenstone pendants derive their value from the hours spent carving into this hard stone. They also obtain worth from being passed down by ancestors through the generations.
The pendant is thought to have been collected in 1777 on discoverer Captain Cook’s third voyage to Polynesia. Captian Cook and his crew became very familiar with the Polynesian people through their many voyages and long term stays on the islands.
To learn more about the people of Polynesia read the Expedition magazine article Sea Routes to Polynesia by Thor Heyerdahl.
Or read more on Captian Cook and his crew’s experience on the islands in the Expedition magazine article Tahiti and the South Sea Legend by William H. Davenport.
Penn Museum Object #P2317.
See this and other objects like it on Penn Museum’s Online Collection Database.