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Last Updated: Monday, 5 March 2007, 16:20 GMT
Scarlets stars decipher Maori art
Regan King (left) and Deacon Manu of the Scarlets with the chair and Talybont junior rugby club
Regan King (left) and Deacon Manu with some fans and the chair
The National Library of Wales has called on two of New Zealand's rugby stars to help explain some Maori carvings on a bardic chair.

It was bequeathed to the library by the family of Rev E. Gwyndaf Evans, who won it at the 1935 National Eisteddfod.

Deacon Manu and Regan King, who play for the Llanelli Scarlets, said motifs of warriors were probably carved on the chair to act as guardians.

It had been presented to the Caernarfon eisteddfod by ex-pats in New Zealand.

It was carved by a Maori craftsman in honour of Lady Bledisloe, who was the wife of New Zealand's Governor General in 1935 and whose origins were in Wales.

The chair was left to the National Library following the death of Rev Evans' wife.

Some of the Maori carvings on the chair (picture: National Library of Wales)
The carvings depict Maori warriors

Manu and King inspected it on Monday at the National Library in Aberystwyth.

Manu explained the significance of the carvings, which depict warriors down each side and lizards on each of the chair's arms.

Manu, who said he had an uncle who carved, said: "There's a lot of symbolism involved in New Zealand Maori culture. Warriors on the chair probably symbolise the guardians of the chair.

"They are possibly warriors from the tribe of the person who carved it."

Explaining the link with lizards, Manu added: "Maori culture is spiritual and close to nature and the ocean."

Rev Evans won the chair for his poem, Magdalen.

It was carved by Maori craftsmen from the wood of the Tatara tree with decorative eyes from the Paua shell.

A spokesman for the National Library said: "It was Gwyndaf's wish that this chair and his portrait as Archdruid of Wales should be presented to the National Library."

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