Accepted paper:

The Taonga's role in the Maori economy: make art or make business?

Authors:

Chiara Carbone (University Roma Tre)

Paper short abstract:

During my thesis in NZ back in 2005,I focused on the textile field and on the weavers'job, paying a special attention to the fact that women attribute a symbolic rather than tradable value to the goods they produced.Weavers and theirs taonga gained value in Maori world and I tried to understand how.

Paper long abstract:

With this study, I explore the meaning of taonga in the Maori's economy and which path this specific exchange followed during the centuries till today, focusing particularly on the social and historic context of the New Zeeland Maori tribes. Taonga are all those goods considered precious for their moral, social and artistic values; either are exchanged for other goods or are given as gifts during the community's ceremonies. The act of giving is functional as it represents the prestigious of the families involved in the exchange as well as a tool to keep the peace in the community. In the study, I explain how the role of taonga and their exchange shifted after NewZealand colonization both political and cultural, and considering how historical facts weighted on the trade-network through studies based on local anthropological sources. An example is given by the alterations occurred to the artistic and hand-crafted textile sector. From being artistic pieces to be donated according to solemn and rooted rituals, Taonga became goods to betraded in the market. The merge between the act of giving and the trade system brought new meanings to exchange as either treasures or valuable goods. Such shift is visible with the rebirth of the economical textile sector closely connected to the actual job of the weavers women of Taonga who are facing a global market with different needs compared to the one of the traditional tribe economic structure.

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