Mana refers to an extraordinary power, essence or presence. This applies to the energies and presences of the natural world. There are degrees of mana and our experiences of it, and life seems to reach its fullness when mana comes into the world.
The most important mana comes from Te Kore – the realm beyond the world we can see, and sometimes thought to be the ‘ultimate reality’.
Certain restrictions, disciplines and commitments have to take place if mana is to be expressed in physical form, such as in a person or object. The concepts of sacredness, restriction and disciplines fall under the term tapu. For example, mountains that were important to particular tribal groups were often tapu, and the activities that took place on these mountains were restricted.
Mauri is an energy which binds and animates all things in the physical world. Without mauri, mana cannot flow into a person or object.
The flow of mana
The idea that mana can flow into the world through tapu and mauri underpinned most of Māori daily life. For example, sacred stones possessing mauri were placed in fishing nets, where they were able to attract fish. The stones were placed in bird snares for the same purpose. When fish arrived in the nets or birds in the snares, Māori saw something more than just the creatures before them – they saw energy within these physical forms. The harvest of fish was the arrival of Tangaroa, god of the sea, which meant the arrival of mana.
Mauri stones were also used to prepare people who would receive mana. In the traditional whare wānanga (school of learning), small pebbles (whatu) were used in a student’s initiation ceremony. It was believed that when the student swallowed the pebbles, the mauri in them was taken into the stomach, establishing the conditions whereby mana in the form of knowledge and learning could come into the person. This is the theory behind Māori meditation practices, known as nohopuku (to dwell inwardly, in the stomach).
Sometimes the best place to start is with someone else’s words and their interpretation.
I have always been fascinated by Mauri stones, stones that are chosen for specific purposes and roles, chosen by shape, colour and feel. These stones occupy a space and place that is sacred and culturally significant. Placed by doorways, buried beneath houses, placed in significant areas for people to fondle and caress, to share energy spiritually,from one life force to the next.
This group of work explores Mauri, how we choose and how do we know which stone is the right one? This cluster of mauri stones gathered and waiting.
The idea or notion of nohopuku…..emotions that dwell inwardly. The puku or stomach is a great store place for emotions, a holding place, gathering place.
These stones are intended for the puku. .to dwell and reside on the outside. Held in the hand or strung up as a pendant, dangling against the puku. The mauri stones carry the life force of Pounamu, shaped as soft rounds, peeble like. It is through mauri that our life forces are bound together.