Door lintel pare
A Maori door lintel
This piece of carved wood is called a pare. Pare sit above the doorways of
Maori meeting houses. This example is
from New Zealand's North Island, made in around 1860. It is 37 cm high and 79cm wide.
The Maori meeting house represents an ancestor - the
gable is his/her face and the roof ridge their backbone. To enter
the house is to enter symbolically the body of the ancestor. In the middle of this pare we can see a female ancestor figure.
Symbolically the pare is one of the most important carvings in the house as it guards the boundary between two worlds:
- in front of the house is an open space. Here, discussions take place, sometimes with hostility
- the inside of the house/the ancestor's body is often seen as 'a place of the heart'. It is a peaceful, calm,
family space. For a person to enter the house is to symbolically change their state
Meeting houses replaced war canoes as the centre of Maori identity in the 19th century. They are carved and decorated
houses, built in an area called the marae. These assembly grounds represent Maori heritage and have their own social
Back to Oceania section | Next object (Flute mask)