All Gone!

Yes it’s true.  The big red Santa boot has gone, removed, put into the trash can and now can be forgotten.

So what else is on my mind today?

Twenty tattooed Maori heads are about to be repatriated from France.  At a  ceremony on Monday at Quai Branly museum in Paris, presided over by the French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand and New Zealand’s ambassador,  the heads encased in a box, were handed over.

Maori Warriors

Photo copyright EPA

In the 18th and 19th centuries Maori heads with intricate facial tattoos or moko, were often kept as trophies from tribal warfare. But with the coming of the white man, it became fashionable for  to collect these heads  by private individuals and men were in danger of being killed simply for their tattoos.

These heads are revered as ancestral remains by Maori, who hold it an insult that they should be on display in overseas museums.   Those from the museum in France have not been on display.  We are told that over the years French museums, anthropological researchers and private collectors have preserved and simply stored the heads.

Since 2003 the NZ government has been attempting (and succeeding in some degree) repatriation of these body parts.  And while more than 180 heads and skeletal remains have been repatriated to New Zealand since that time,  about 400 are estimated to remain in the UK alone.

The heads will be brought to Te Papa our National Museum and then will be distributed to the tribes to whom they belong. Some are readily identifiable but others are not, and Maori tribes are unwilling to accept body parts of anyone other than their own.  Because of this, Te Papa have some 500 unidentified body parts in storage.

As a Pakeha (non Maori New Zealander) I applaud the government’s actions  in repatriating these artifacts.


22 responses to “All Gone!

  1. Yay ! Whoop whoop !
    No more santa boot.
    Do you have to do exercises or anything to pick up the muscles which have been resting ?

    • Yes it is in it’s final resting place – RIP. And at this stage I do have some exercises and will have physio treatment starting in the next week or so. And today I have just DRIVEN around the block. Hooray – almost back to normal.

  2. I too welcome this repatriation and the change in attitude it represents towards things sacred to other cultures. I hope the UK will also return its collection of heads. The point is that, once returned, these things will be treated with respect. There has been a call for the British Museum to return Greek artifacts to Greece and Egyptian mummies to Egypt – but the motive is probably commercial in these cases, so should they also be repatriated?
    And Santa gets the boot!

    • Hello Catherine and thanks for visiting. I have been following the saga of the Marbles over several years and I fear that we (as I am British I can say we) will never return these spoils to their rightful owners.

  3. Ah, what a relief to get that cast off!
    Interesting about the Maori Heads. Thanks for sharing. Learn something new everyday! You’re always good to enlighten your audience with cool little historical facts!

    • I can’t tell you how much lighter I feel both physically and mentally. There will be no stopping me now Elizabeth.
      And the Maori heads should be returned to their tribes where they belong.

  4. I’m sure you are happy to have that boot off! And very interesting story about the Maori Heads.

    • Thanks Susan.
      The Maori are very family and heritage conscious and so it is important that these heads, taken as trophies to the west, be returned to them. Thanks for the comment.:)

  5. Very interesting…even if a bit icky to think about. So glad you are free again!

    • Don’t like to dwell on severed and preserved heads. But I am pleased they are being returned and oh yes, the big red Santa boot has gone to it’s final resting place.

  6. I admit the information about the Maori was interesting, but the fact that you got your boot off was better! Congrats!!

  7. I’m so happy you are cast-free. I’m also glad the tattooed heads are being returned to their rightful owners. Well, sort of rightful owners. 🙂

  8. Driving! Walking Lotte? Very interesting reading about the Maori heads, I had no idea of this, Judith. Glad to hear they are being returned.

  9. Yay! Glad you got the boot off. The Maori head story was interesting, but a bit creepy to me. Transporting heads? Ick.

  10. What a relief to be rid of your Santa boot. Sounds like you’re good as new. 🙂
    Very interesting about the Maori heads being repatriated. Somewhat of a gruesome business – all that head transporting.

    • Yes Jacki I am good as new and yesterday I drove myself to the manicurists – vanity thy name most surely is woman (Judith B) Hooray!
      As I said to Janna I find the fact that anybody would want a head as a trophy, be it animal of human, is pretty ghastly.

  11. A fascinating, and scary story!

    • Even though the heads were taken as trophies between warring Maori tribes, it seems so much worse for them to be taken by Westerners and kept on display.

  12. So glad to hear you’re rid of the Santa boot! Yay! 🙂

    What a bizarre thing to do — collect heads. Gruesome, really.

    • One would have to ask what sort of person collects heads. 🙂 And walking without crutches and driving again – a whole new world has opened up to me. There can be no stopping me now!

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