You won’t see a live kiwi in New Zealand unless you’re a dedicated birdwatcher or you go to a zoo. Unlike kea parrots, seagulls, and ibises, kiwis don’t hang out around humans and swoop down from the air to snatch crumbs from your lunch. They’re nocturnal. Moreover, they can’t swoop.
Nevertheless, tourist shops are overrun with kiwi bird keychains, t-shirts, mugs, shot glasses, paperweights, coasters, playing cards, baseball caps, fridge magnets, and figurines made from plastic, wood, glass, and metal.
Although I like animal figurines, and the kiwi is obviously the iconic New Zealand animal, I refrained from buying a kiwi figurine until I saw this inexpensive, tiny, rubber, made-in-China creature. Perfect.
This bird sculpture was made by Paora Toi-Te-Rangiuaia, a Maori artist whose shop I wandered into on Waiheke Island. He is a jeweler and self-trained sculptor who uses traditional Maori symbols and subjects, and is fascinated with bird and feather forms, which he has reproduced in stone, wood, and various metals. I’m proud to have been able to bring this little bird home with me.
Here’s a photo of a real wax-eye or silver-eye bird, the kind the sculpture was modeled on, taken by someone good at bird photos:
The big one is a cherished a treasure from my grandparents’ attic, the smaller matching one a miracle of chance I found years later, I’m not sure where.
I bought these long ago on a Girl Scout trip, a kind of pilgrimage to the place where Juliet Low started the organization. See below for what I remember from that trip.
Continue reading Horse tails and horse tales from Savannah, Georgia
I really like the detail on this realistic camel carving from Mongolia. My husband brought it back for me from a trip he went on with his father.
In Singapore, there are many jade and other carved stone figurines available, especially of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals, because many people practice feng shui.
I seldom see stone elephants, though, certainly not in this form, with the trunk turned to the side.
The other animal is a mythical thingy with a lot of different names. The main Wikipedia entry is at Pixiu. It has wings and one horn, and it goes without saying it’s lucky or whatever.
There’s nothing in the picture for scale, but these things are tiny.
I bought them at Naga Arts and Antiques at Tanglin Shopping Centre.
This awesome little owl was a gift from Germany.
There are lots more where it came from!
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