Hau: the Aura of the Gift

(This post is part of the Art as Gift Project)

In his 1925 essay The Gift, Marcel Mauss addresses the nature of the gifts exchanged in rituals such as the potlatch. Asking “what force is there in the given thing that causes its recipient to pay it back?” (GT, 41) Mauss names this “force” hau, a Maori word which might be translated as “aura.”

Hau signals the hidden power of the gift to demand restitution, it is that which carries out the synthesis, essential to the gift, between two antithetical operations, giving/taking or giving/returning.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Given Time Chapter 3 Posts. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s