Robley's Eccentric Collections: Maori Heads.

From The Human Marvel:

Much of what we know of the Maori today comes from the studies and documentations made by Major-General Horatio Gordon Robley. While in New Zealand, Robley befriended the Maori there and used his artistic skills to illustrate and paint scenes of the Maori way of life. Currently the Dominion Museum in Wellington house seventy of his paintings and his sketches provided a basis for Cassells' publication Races of Mankind.

However, Robley is perhaps most well known for his eccentric collection.

The Maori mummified the tattooed heads of their tribesmen and Robley decided to acquire as many as possible. Over the years he built a collection of 35. In 1908 he offered them to the New Zealand Government for £1,000 but his offer was denied. Today, 30 of his heads are in the collection of the Natural History Museum in New York.

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kia ora readers,im a maori of aotearoa[new zealand] my waka [canoe]is tainui,and my [iwi] tribe is ngati maniapoto,my hapu [area] are ngati te kanawa and ngati toa,seeing this image made me so bloody mad,a pakeha coming to aotearoa and taking the heads of our tupuna,the head is the most tapu [sacred] of the body,and we no who we are,we didnt need no pakeha to tell us that,all the heads should be sent back to new zealand,this is so sad,i wish you were still alive robley,ill have your head on my wall.
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I would never consider a non-maori publication as the source of all information on Ta Moko or Maori culture in general.

Wether they were friends or not.

This is where ignorance bears misrepresentation....

"Much of what we know of the Maori today comes from the studies and documentations made by Major-General Horatio Gordon Robley"

I have never heard of this mans publications. I would be more likely to utilize the paintings of Charles Goldie than this "Head Collector".
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I recently finished a degree in Maori arts and do you know, I never came across Robley's book! How embarrassing, I'll just have to rely on the traditions as passed down through waiata and moteatea and karakia... There's a large community of Maori in Manhattan; I wonder how many of them have read Robley's book after seeing his collection. :-)
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Oh please, of course the reference was to the ancestral Maori tattoo, not the Manori people. The tattooing was the subject of the post previous on the blog.

Robley's book, Maori Tattooing, has been the standard reference since its publication in 1896. In the introduction he wrote:

'My main object in this book is to present a series of illustrations of the art of moko or tattooing, as practiced by the Maoris. It is fast vanishing, and a record of it by one who has studied the subject for many years may be worth publication. I have learnt all I could of moko in New Zealand, and from the best sources, and such skill as I have as an artist has long been employed in setting down my notes in the form of drawings.'

FYI Robley also preserved many customs, stories and even illustrated the daily Maori way of life in his writings. Furthermore, he made the history and culture of the Maori people accessible to Europeans via his books.
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