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An elder Maori man with traditional facial moko looks into the distance. He is wrapped in a blanket. The image, reminiscent of antique art, has an old, sepia tone. Text beneath describes him as a tohunga from the Tuhoe tribe, highlighting his experience during the Mount Tarawera eruption. This is titled "Photograph of Maori Tohunga : Tuhoto Ariki. Nicholas Wells Antiques

Rare 19th-Century Maori Tohunga Portrait by Elizabeth Pullman

Historical Context and Significance

The “Portrait of Maori Tohunga: Tuhoto Ariki,” taken by Elizabeth Pullman circa 1886, is an exquisite representation of Maori culture and a testament to the artistry of 19th-century photography. Pullman, a renowned photographer of her time, captured this striking image of Tuhoto Ariki, a distinguished Tohunga (priest, expert, and advisor) of the Tuhourangi tribe from Wairoa. The photograph, an albumen print, measures 92 x 133mm, a size that highlights the intricate details of both the subject and the medium.

Cultural and Historical Significance

Tuhoto Ariki is depicted wearing a Kaitaka, a traditional Maori cloak made from finely woven flax. This garment signifies his high status and deep connection to Maori heritage. His face bears the traditional Moko, a form of tattooing that is rich in cultural significance, symbolizing his identity, social status, and tribal affiliations. This portrait is not merely a photograph; it is a cultural artifact that offers a glimpse into the spiritual and social life of the Maori people in the late 19th century.

The Legend of Tuhoto Ariki

Tuhoto Ariki’s story is intertwined with the dramatic eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886. He was reportedly buried for five days and nights in the mud during this catastrophic event, an ordeal that he survived, adding a layer of mystique and resilience to his persona. This event is a poignant reminder of the natural forces that shaped the lives of the Maori and their enduring spirit.

Artistic and Technical Merits

Elizabeth Pullman’s work is celebrated for its clarity and depth, capturing the essence of her subjects with a remarkable sensitivity to light and texture. The albumen print technique, popular in the 19th century, involved using egg white to bind the photographic chemicals to the paper, resulting in a rich tonal range and fine detail. This method enhances the tactile quality of Tuhoto Ariki’s Kaitaka and the intricate lines of his Moko, bringing a palpable realism to the image.

Condition and Provenance

This print, captioned “Tuhoto, Tohunga Maori” and “Tuhourangi Tribe Wairoa,” has been preserved with care, maintaining its historical and aesthetic integrity. The annotations provide essential context, linking the image to its specific cultural and geographical origins. Its condition is consistent with its age, showing minimal signs of wear that do not detract from its visual impact or historical value.

Nicholas Wells Antiques advisors are available to answer all your questions. 

Please email us or call +44 (0)207 6920 897
An elder Maori man with traditional facial moko looks into the distance. He is wrapped in a blanket. The image, reminiscent of antique art, has an old, sepia tone. Text beneath describes him as a tohunga from the Tuhoe tribe, highlighting his experience during the Mount Tarawera eruption. This is titled "Photograph of Maori Tohunga : Tuhoto Ariki. Nicholas Wells Antiques

Photograph of Maori Tohunga : Tuhoto Ariki

Stock Number: 15277

Portrait of Maori Tohunga : Tuhoto Ariki 19th Century Albumen Print By Elizabeth Pullman, Circa 1886 Captioned “Tuhoto, Tohunga Maori” “Tuhourangi Tribe Wairoa” Age from 104 to 110 “58” Buried 5 days and nights in the mud during the eruption of Mt Tarawera. A Tohunga was a Priest, expert, advisor, he is shown wearing a Kaitaka, a cloak of fine woven flax. His face with traditional Moko – tattoo. 92 x 133mm
  • Height: 13 cm (5.12 inches)
  • Width: 9 cm (3.54 inches)

£1,500

This unique piece is subject to availability.
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Dimensions

Approximate Dimensions

  • Height: 13 cm (5.12 inches)
  • Width: 9 cm (3.54 inches)

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Our description of any item on the website, any condition report and any other statement made by us (whether orally or in writing) about any item, including about its nature or condition, artist, period, materials, approximate dimensions, or provenance are our opinion and not to be relied upon as a statement of fact.

Returns

In the UK Online sales of this kind are known as ‘distance selling’. We offer a refund to customers if you’ve told us within 3 days of receiving the goods that you want to cancel. You have another 14 days to return the goods once you’ve told us of your intention. A refund will be issued within 14 days of receiving the goods back in the same condition. Return shipping should be the same level as received with insurance, we recommend using the same shipper at your cost. If needed we will help organise suitable shipping.

We will refund the purchase price, excluding delivery costs and taxes, within 14 days of the safe receipt of items in the same condition as supplied. The liability for any damage incurred during transit will remain with the sender. We recommend that adequate insurance is placed on items when returning them to us.

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We extend these Return terms to our international clients.

Origins

Delivery Options

We will ship worldwide however the costs vary between countries so please email us for a quote. Depending on the item we will recommend the most suitable method.

Our preferred international shipping methods include fine art shippers Gander and White, Art Logistics, Cadogan Tate for items over £5,000. For Fedex, DHL or UPS shipments we expertly pack in-house in wooden crates or heavy duty cardboard – Suitable for most items under £5000. If you have your own shippers we are very happy to coordinate with them.

INSURANCE

All items are sent fully insured at the invoice value.

LOCAL TAXES

All items are inclusive of all local taxes but may be subject to additional charges for importation and taxes local to the client. Antiques are zero-rated to the USA, all items ship with the correct paperwork. While we are not liable for these additional charges we do encourage clients to research these prior to purchasing items from us. We will make a full value disclosure, as required by the insurance, on all items sent overseas. This is required to ensure proper insurance cover in sending valuable items.

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Where required we will oversee the completion of all export licenses for high-value items. We will also arrange for CITES paperwork for materials of endangered species including ivory, tortoiseshell, stuffed birds etc.

DELIVERY TIMES

This is dependent on the size and value of the object, all items are checked over and polished before shipping and will generally have wooden crates made. This all takes time so expect 10 – 20 working days for delivery unless the item is small in which case 2-3 days from order.

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INSURANCE VALUATION

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