Manaia Pounamu greenstone necklace
The new age understanding of the Manaia is that it represents the balance between the sky, the earth and the sea. Its design is based on birds, which are seen as vehicles for the souls of the dead as they travel to the afterlife. Birds were so valued by Maori that their cries were listened to and their movements watched with care. As a result, all Manaia serve as guardians and givers of omens. To wear one can protect from evil and connect the wearer with the souls of the dead. They are usually depicted in profile, and some feel this is because the Manaia is half in the spiritual world and half in this world.
The Manaia is depicted as having the head of a bird and the tail of a fish and the body of a man.
Theh Manaia has been carved on both sides.
Measurements: length 15 cm plus width 5 cm
Packaging: Double door black leather box with white inner pad.
Cord: Black plaited wax cord extendable to length.
Blessing of the Pounamu has been done by the carver Hoani Pohatu.
The custom of blessing has strong origins within traditional Maori culture, not just with Pounamu. Maori people often based their lives around the concept of ‘Tapu’.
Tapu is a supernatural condition applied to people, objects, behaviours or customs by Rangatira (chiefs) or Tohunga (experts) who acted as channels for the Atua, working on their behalf.
Atua are supernatural entities; gods, demons or deitys - and the term is now used to denote meaning to the Christian God.
Many Maori trace their ancestry back through Atua in their whakapapa (genealogical line). It was also used as a way of rationalizing and perceiving elements of the world that couldn’t be explained. Atua and Tapu was used much like a modern religion, being the governing force behind behaviours of the Maori people.
Everything natural, built, carved or belonging to priests or other persons highly ranked, had Tapu, which meant it was connected to the spirit world and the Atua.
Before these could be touched, used or eaten a blessing had to be performed to remove the Tapu, this was called Noa. Noa or being 'freed from Tapu' most commonly came from Karakia (prayer), water or food blessings, however it can be achieved by any form of blessing if the result is to remove or neutralize the Tapu.
Noa was a practice used to sever the ties from the spiritual world, keeping it firmly in their human world. As Tapu was literally tied to everything, Noa would have to be performed whenever the Maori received, made or cooked anything, or for key moments in their life.
These parameters were put in place to protect the environment and people ensuring that they both flourished in unison and that everything and everyone was granted the respect that was deserved. Members of a community would not violate the Tapu for fear of retribution, including bad luck, punishment or even death as a result of angering the Atua in which it was connected to.
This was why the Noa blessings were so important and performed regularly within the Maori culture. Women, particularly Ruahine were integral in this process (whakanoa) and seen as potent symbols of Tapu removal.
People were born with Tapu and those who could trace their ancestry back through Atua in their whakapapa were considered higher up than others, under the gods special care. It was up to each individual to maintain and preserve their own Tapu and respect the Tapu of others and places.
Maori society was a hierarchy in which men and women maintained their Tapu, just as they maintained their villages by protecting their boundaries. Tapu rules regulated how they ate, with whom they ate and what they did with anything else that would be related to their persons. Certain situations would give people more Tapu, such as; woman giving birth, warriors going to battle and men carving.