I recently had the pleasure of creating a pendant for a client, using New Zealand Greenstone and a gold Christening bracelet. The resulting piece is intended as a gift for his grand-daughter. A relatively simple task took me almost a month to complete, considering the obstacles that came my way. My usual slow start combined with the unforeseen: pet illness and some minor eye surgery. I got the job completed, though, and the result was very well received by both my client and his grand-daughter.
Via this experience, my appreciation for this material has grown. I managed to pick up a few pieces of vintage greenstone at a local antique dealer. These little finds have already started the creativity wheels turning in my mind. I also started to research greenstone and found that it is a cornerstone in Maori culture. They call this treasure, Pounamu, which is a term that encompasses a group of hard, durable and attractive jade, bowenite and serpentine stones that are found on the Southern Island of New Zealand. Greenstone is the generic term for all these.
Personal objects in greenstone are passed from one generation down to the next. They hold their own mana (prestige) and were historically given as gifts to seal important deals. The Victorians fashioned delightful jewellery and personal objects greenstone teamed with gold.
Though many wonderful, creative forms are produced, Maori artisans also favour particular traditional shapes, these being, Koru (a symbol of Creation); Tiki (the primeval man figure); Manaia (a mythical sea creature); Toki (a blade or adze form); Matau (the ubiquitous fishing hook) and Kumara (an intertwined form, representational of loyalty).