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First Attempt At A Manaia


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Evening all, I have attached some photos of my first Manaia (I found a description which may be of use to some of you whan trying to decipher the meaning of various Maori Carvings)

I will say that the photos definitely do not do it justice :blush:

The material is beef bone, roughed out with a Dremel and finished with three grades of sandpaper and wet and dry paper folowed by hand polishing.

As always comments and constructive criticism welcome

Two views of front and one of rear - as you can see, it doesn't matter which way round it is viewed




The manaia is known as a spiritual guardian, and carrier of supernatural powers.

Traditionally depicted as a bird like figure with the head of a bird, body of a man and the tail of a fish , acting as a provider and protector over Sky, Earth and Sea. Likened to a bird sitting on your shoulder, looking after ones spirit, and guiding your spirit where it is supposed to go when your time comes. You can liken the Maori Manaia to a Guardian Angel, a spiritual guardian.

The Manaia is believed to be a provider and protector over the sky, earth and sea. Wherever we are, our Manaia is there. The Maori Manaia protects us from harm, only letting us go when our appointed time on earth is up.

You will usually recognise a Manaia carving from its bird-like head, believed to represent flight. When we die, our spirit takes flight, accompanied by the Manaia. In the case of Maori, their spirit takes flight to Spirits Bay, near the top of the North Island of New Zealand, and from there goes back to the Maori ancestral homeland, Hawaiiki.




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Hey Baz,


This looks good. I know how the whole photo thing goes, its one of my weak points as well. Nothing I carve ever looks as good on here as it does when your holding it unsure.gif

The manaia design you've made looks well planed and I think you've done a really good job with the negative space. In the area of constructive criticism I think some of your interior lines (around the beak, the armpit of the arm touching the tail, and the fork of the tail) could use a bit more file work to smooth them up and keep the lines nice and flowing. I cant tell from looking at the photo, are the main body forms rounded or flat? I always like to see rounded body forms with this type of carving but that's probably a personal thing. At any rate good design and well made.



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Hey Baz. Looking good bro. Nice work. I agree with Dustin, it's often nice to see the edges contoured, but yes that is subjective. I'm not suggesting you change this one, but maybe explore it on the next and see what you think. I notice the hands only have two fingers. Is there a reason for that, or simply a design preference of your own? I love manaia, but have not carved one in a while. Must revisit one day.

Kia ora for sharing, Billy.

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Thanks for the comments Guys

I agree with Dustin - maybe I could have been a wee bit more diligent with the needle files

The edges are rounded slightly - mainly to take the sharp edges off.

Billy, two fingers on this one as I felt that I didn't have the room without making the hands out of proportion with the rest of the piece.

Have another one in mind so will look at three fingers then - always looking to improve and comments from you guys always inspire (as does looking at others' work)

When I find a decent piece of Paua, I'll try adding an eye

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