How to Carve a Maori Hook Pendant (Video)




Introduction: How to Carve a Maori Hook Pendant (Video)

About: Travelling since 2013. I'm currently in Australia for some reason. --- I’m Calvin Drews, and I love to learn, experiment, invent, create, repair, and generally just do things myself. A sort of modern jack o...

This instructable is entered in the "make it stick" contest. The adhesive I use in this video is superglue.

Hei Matau
This is how I carve a traditional symbol called a Hei Matau (stylized fishing hook). A Hei Matau, also known as a hawaiian hook or a Maori hook is an ancient Polynesian symbol of strength, speed, and ability to provide. It's also fabled to protect people who are traveling over water.

This particular hook has a wooden shank and a bone barb. Usually hooks are made entirely out of bone or shell, but once in awhile you'd see a larger hook made like this. The polynesians did not really have access to large bones suitible for making large hooks, so they typically used stone, shells, or an inlaw's femur. Whalebone is brittle and difficult to carve, however is was usable after years of preparation.

The Hei Matau originated in Maori legend. Maori's are the original natives of New Zealand. The legend is that a man cought the north island of new zealand (which, at that time, was an enormous fish) with a hook he made out of his grandmothers jawbone (Maori's were never know to be very sentimental).

Obviously, since catching a fish the size of a habitable island is a pretty manly thing to do, this guy went down in history and was forgiven for carving his grandmother's JAW BONE into a fishing hook.

These hooks were originally carved by filing away at a bone with a piece of  rough coral. Since this method takes pretty much 300 years to make a hook, I use a jewelers saw, bandsaw, sandpaper, and files.

I have lots of great projects like this on my blog here!
Like this hook? Check it out on my etsy!

If you are having trouble finding bone, I have an online material and source list at the bottom of this post.



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    10 Discussions

    nice are you from new zealand if so where from that looking good jimmy from kidintheworkshop

    I am a goldsmith and a artisan in metals, wood and pottery, and we don't have a sissy hands, in fact, we have a straight pulse and an incredible firmness!... But on the other hand... an automatic saw and sanding, I really don't see a real man's work here, buuuut.. if that let you sleep by night... very well...

    PS: It's a geat piece, a really nice work!!.. just save the comments for yourself, greetings...

    will you make me one
    i would make one but i dont have access to a band saw anymore :/
    or a grinder or anything im pretty much cut off from power tools and i dont have enough cash to go buy files and finishing tools for it and get the bone and mahogany
    if yes tell me how much it will take to make one, if you dont want to thank you for the awesome instructable and i might give it a try but might not turn out great haha

    4 replies

    Thanks, I'm glad you liked the project! I have an Etsy store here
    Currently I have 3 hooks for sale.

    i took a look and they are bit pricey
    they are worth it but i think i am gonna try to make my own with a knife and stuff like they did way back
    if your gonna go for the ancient look go all out right?

    That's a great idea! To save time, I recommend getting a coping saw from a hardware store ($10?). Use that to rough cut the hook shape. Then use files and sandpaper to carve the rest!

    apparently my dad was given a router for christmas a few years ago so that will actually help with the shape
    haha :)
    then he found his dremel
    i thought it was gonna be this huge big project but now i just gotta focus on looks

    Every time i use a X-acto knife like that I lose blood, even when I'm being safer than that.

    All i have to say is wow great job. I have to put this on my to do list so good luck and i hope you win.