Is it bad luck to buy my own greenstone?
No! Whether you are buying a pounamu for a loved one or for yourself, you do not need to worry. There is no traditional tikanga (teaching) that states that choosing a stone for yourself will result in bad luck.
Customers often talk about how specific stones speak to them, so we do believe that to an extent the stone can actually choose you! But there is no reason why you shouldn’t purchase these special stones as a gift for yourself, especially if you feel a particular connection to a piece of greenstone or a design.
Whether gifted to you by yourself or another, your pounamu taonga (jade treasure) will be imbued with your wairua (spirit) and become a treasure to pass down for generations to come.
So, where did this rumour start, and why?
No one really knows how and why this superstition started, but however it did, it certainly added to the mystique of owning a pounamu.
Many years ago, when traditional time-consuming methods would have been used to carve, it might have taken a year or more to produce a greenstone taonga. Pieces were therefore highly regarded, becoming heirlooms that were passed down (or gifted) from generation to generation. This is where much of the modern interpretation comes from.
Historically, gifting was central in the lives of Maori. It was a guiding principle and helped maintain the social ‘balance’ (mana) of communities and tribes. The process of this was shown through the gifts being given as a response to another persons doing or previous gift, each one proceeding being of greater significance or value. A material that was often used within this custom, due to its spiritual importance, was pounamu. Some of the most beautiful or significant carvings were also gifted to leading tribesmen, either for their strength or their spirituality. It was a high honour to receive a carved pounamu in this respect. The Maori people were very connected to the spiritual world and thus very connected to the earth around them. The creational story of Pounamu is that it is essentially the essence of a taniwha (Spiritual water being) called Poutini, hence why greenstone has held such a high regard as a taonga (treasure) within the Maori culture.
Considering that gifting has a strong presence throughout pounamu's history, there is no wonder some modern day thinking is that it should only be gifted and that it would result in bad luck to buy jade for oneself. The thinking behind this concept of ‘bad luck’ is most likely due to the fragmented interpretations of the concepts tapu and mana, which dictate actions of respect and balance within society.
The Spiritual Value of Pounamu
Pounamu was so highly valued that Maori guarded it with their life. When raiding parties came it would be hidden away so that it would not be stolen. Because of the spiritual significance, it was gifted on significant occasions as a symbol of honour, respect and permanence, and exchanged between parties as symbols of peace agreements.
It was a high honour to receive a carved pounamu in this respect. The Maori people were very connected to the spiritual world and thus very connected to the earth around them. The creational story of Pounamu is that it is essentially the essence of a taniwha (Spiritual water being) called Poutini, hence why greenstone has held such a high regard as a taonga (treasure) within the Maori culture.
When you wear pounamu, it is said that you become as one. So, when a wearer passes a treasured pounamu on to someone else, they are in fact passing on a piece of themselves.
In short, you are not disrespecting any ancient cultural practises or traditions by gifting a piece to yourself.