Meanings Behind Maori Pendant Designs

Koru (Jade) - NZ Design Pendant ZGP14

Broad strong strokes of paint on a scroll or rich blue-black ink patterns gleaming under the skin’s surface, Maori designs command attention in each and every form they take. Before the adoption of written word, Maori tribe’s people utilised materials like bone, wood, stone and jade.

A large number of the etchings represent aspects of the origin of mankind, how the animals came into existence and how sacred the relationship between nature and man is.

The deep respect that the Maori have for nature is evident in their preservation of classic tribal designs. The intricate swoops and spheres communicate ancient tribal tales dating back generations and are often worn in the form of pendants.

Ariki Jewellery uses Nephrite Jade and Paua for pendant designs, such as:

  • Koru or Spiral Design: The Koru or spiral design represents a fresh fern frond as it unfolds. As the frond unravels, the Maori believe it unleashes its purity out into the world. Growth, peace, tranquility and new beginnings are also associated with the Koru pendant design.
  • Circle Design: The Circle design invokes imagery of the Circle of Life, endless and without any defined beginning or end. The seamless movement of the planets and the stars above are represented by the circle etching. There is a mutual existence in which all beings, humans, plants and animals, share a sacred bond.
  • Twist Design: In Maori culture the twist represents the concept of eternity, with each twist portraying the various paths an individual takes in the pursuit of love and life. If one chooses to gift a friend or loved one with a single twist jade pendant, they are emphasising the deep eternal bond the duo shares in friendship, love and loyalty.

Other traditional representations of Maori culture a in jewellery design include the depiction of sea creatures like turtles, whales and dolphins.

As a New Zealand Jewellery firm, Ariki Jewellery specialises in the use of stones and shells like Greenstone or Nephrite Jade and Paua Shell.