Cook Islands Flag

Cook Islands Travel Guide

Mangaia Crafts

Mangaia is represented in museum collections around the world by large ceremonial adzes, which were used to decapitate prisoners taken in battles. The head, right arm, and right leg were regarded as prized possessions because of the mana they possessed.

Later the missionaries had the adzes changed to incorporate "steeple stands," reproducing church steeples. This was used to symbolize church authority over the ariki.

A local carver named Uria makes ceremonial adzes. Glen Tuara carves pendants and other items from stone.

The yellow pupu shell necklaces (ei) of Mangaia are also unique. The tiny gray pupu shells are found on the makatea only after rainfall. The yellow color comes from boiling them in caustic soda, though they can also be bleached white or dyed other colors. The shells are pierced one by one with a needle and threaded to make the ei.