Friday, November 4, 2011
MAORI CLOAKS: WHATU KAHAHU from Te Papa
Weaving is more than just a product of manual skills. From the simple rourou (food basket) to the prestigious kahukiwi (kiwi feather cloak), weaving is endowed with the very essence of the spiritual values of Maori people. The first Maori settlers brought the knowledge of weaving with them. In Aotearoa they found new plant materials, including the versatile harakeke (New Zealand flax). They also incorporated feathers from birds and the skin and hair of their dogs. They wove practical items necessary for everyday life. But they also wove exceptional items such as fine mats and wall panels and, above all, kakahu (cloaks) of immense significance, which bestow mana (prestige) on both weaver and wearer. This major new publication opens the storeroom doors of the Te Papa Tongarewa Maori collections, illuminating the magnificent kakahu in those collections and the art and tradition of weaving itself. Five, informative chapters, each written by an expert contributor, reveal the history and significance of weaving, every page sumptuously illustrated with detailed, all-new photographs by Te Papa photographer Norm Heke. In addition, forty rare and precious kakahu are featured specially within this book, with glossy colour detail illustrations of each, plus historical and contextual images and graphic diagrams of weaving techniques. These are accompanied by engaging descriptions bringing together information on every cloak - its age, materials, and weaving technique with quotes from master weavers and other experts, stories of the cloaks, details of their often remarkable provenance. A full glossary, illustrated guide to cloak types, and index are included.