Volume 34 1925 > Volume 34, No. 133 > The Evolution of Maori clothing. Part V, by Te Rangi Hiroa, (P. H. Buck), p 61-92
                                                                                             Previous | Next   

- 61
V. (Continued from Vol. XXXIII., No. 4.)

THE general technique having been described, it is now necessary to give the actual strokes made by the weft elements. The warps are the passive vertical or longitudinal elements, whilst the wefts are the active elements which pass at right angles across the warps and by various strokes fix them together into a fabric. It is these methods of fixation that determine which of the arts or crafts Maori work belongs to or is derived from. It also throws light on what elements of the craft were introduced from Polynesia and what were developed locally.

There are three methods used in making the body of a garment with a single-pair or two-pair weft and a fourth method used in making the coloured borders known as taniko.


The term single-pair twining was used by Ling Roth 1 and seems the most appropriate. The weft consists of two elements which are twisted over each other to form a two-ply twine. Each half turn encloses a warp element. The stroke is thus identical with the plain twined weave in basketry described on page 43 in Vol. 33, and Figs. 5b and 6b do equally well for both. With this technique, the weft lines may be spaced apart or close together.


AFFINITY TO BASKETRY.—Fig. 19 shows the spaced single-pair twine. The similarity of this technique to the plain twined weave in basketry is shown in Plate 27, where the details of the Maori fish traps figured in Plates 3, 5 and 6 - 62 are shown. A shows the rigid manuka rods bound together by a spaced two-ply twine of more pliable vine. B has more pliable split mangemange rods with a two-ply twine of the

Spaced single-pair twining.

same material. In C, fairly stiff rushes take the place of the more rigid material and the zig-zag arrangement of the warps, as in Aleutian basketry, is plainly seen. In D, the warps consist of a coarse swamp grass, kutakuta or paopao, Scirpus lacustris. The material is covered over with old garments or mats and allowed to dry under cover. This process renders them much softer. In twining, the warps are brought closely together and from the appearance in the Plate, there is nothing to distinguish it from a fabric for clothing. It was used from its closeness to make scoop nets for whitebait and as matting.

USE.—Spaced single-pair twining was used, as we have seen, in kilts, rain capes and rain cloaks of the rougher and coarser varieties. Best 2 described it in the simplest kind of apron or maro made from the Scripus lacustris. “Two aho or cross threads are woven across the fibrous paopao to bind it together, the ends hanging down loosely as in a piupiu.” In this primitive garment, there is only one line of single-pair twining. It was worn by young girls.

Plate 28a shows the inner surface of a very rough rain cape. The warps are coarse and not carefully scraped whilst the weft lines are widely spaced. The object was to provide a basis to which the tags for turning the rain could be attached. Plate 28b shows a better made cape with the weft

- i
Photos by (A & C) H. Hamilton; (B & D) W. R. Reynolds., Spaced Single-pair Twining in Fish Traps. A—Rigid manuka, eel trap. B—Split mangemange, whitebait trap. C—Stiff rushes, koaro trap. D—Soft rushes, whitebait scoop net. (A & C) Dominion Museum; (B & D) Auckland Museum).
- ii
Photos by (a & b) H. Hamilton; (c) W. R. Reynolds; (d) J. F. G. Stokes., Spaced Single-pair Twining in Clothing. a—Rough rain cape. b—Rain cloak. c—Toi rain cape. d—Fine dress cloak. (a & b) Dominion Museum; (c) Tapsell collection; (d) Australian Museum, Sydney.
- 63

lines closer together and the twining more carefully done. Plate 28c shows the inner side of the toi cape figured in Plate 16.

The plain twine is common in rain cloaks, in which the work improves. It is commonly used in the more recently made tag cloaks where the flax fibre warp has been replaced by cheaply procurable knitting cotton. It seemed on first view as if this technique with better class garments was an example of degradation of culture. That it is not entirely so is proved by the fact that single-pair twining occurs, as recorded by Ling Roth, 3 in many of the better class garments found in Cook collections in British museums. Plate 28d, from a photo by Mr. J. F. G. Stokes, shows a Cook cloak in the Australian Museum, Sydney. It is a plain body cloak with taniko borders. Though there are a few lines of two-pair wefts, the main technique is single-pair twining beautifully done. Single-pair twining was thus used in some of the best cloaks before European print goods and sartorial distractions degraded Maori art.

NAME.—The single-pair weft was called aho patahi and the term is restricted to spaced twining. It means single thread and was so named because single elements were handled on either side of the warp and only one appeared on either surface of the garment. In twining the weft elements, the element on the worker's side of the warp was twisted from below upwards and toward the right. It thus crossed over the other element as it passed between the warps toward the back whilst the new anterior element appeared from below the disappearing one. This rule is invariable in the garments but in some of the fish traps (Plate 27A and 27B), the anterior element crosses from above downwards toward the right whilst in the rush trap (Plate 27C), the direction alternates in successive rows.

WEFT COMMENCEMENT.—The single-pair weft is commenced over the left marginal warp by doubling a single weft thread round it at its mid point as in Fig. 19a. A second more secure method is to attach it with a lark's head knot in the same manner in which a boat's rope is attached to a ring bolt. The single weft thread is doubled and the loop or bight so formed is passed behind the marginal warp. The two ends are brought over the warp and both passed - 64 through the bight as in Fig. 19b. In the Figure, the marginal warp is spaced out to show the details. In the capes and rough cloaks, as already mentioned, this marginal element is one strand of a three-ply braid.

WEFT FINISH.—The finish of the weft line over the right marginal warp has been shown in Fig. 18a.

The single-pair weft or aho patahi is recognised by the Maori as being simpler, older and not so good as the two-pair weft.

2.—CLOSE SINGLE-PAIR TWINING, pauku OR pukupuku.

By twining the weft lines as closely together as possible, a close thick fabric was obtained, Fig. 20a. As in spaced twining, the anterior element crossed the warps from below upwards and toward the right.

Close single-pair twining.

USE.—Close single-pair twining was used in the war cloaks, pukupuku. Some of these were said to be very thick and coarse to give protection against spear thrusts. Plate 29a shows a fragment of this work which is fairly fine. The wefts have been removed from the upper part to show the warps whilst the uppermost weft line has been unraveled

- iii
Photos by W. R. Reynolds., Close Single-pair Twining. a—War cloak (Buck collection). b—Dogskin cloak (Auckland Museum).
- iv
Photos by Auckland Photo Engravers., Spaced Two-pair Interlocking Weft. a—Toi rain cape. b—Kilt. c—Tag cloak. d—Plain body cloak. (a) Tapsell collection; (b, c & d) Buck collection.
- 65

on the right to show the two elements composing it. It contains six warps to 1 cm. and 7 weft lines to 1 cm. The specimen was obtained from a cave and kindly sent to me by Mr. W. Hammond of Thames. The work entailed in making a full sized cloak must have been enormous and it is little wonder that they are no longer made even for sale. Some tribes term this work, pauku.

It was also used in the fabric of dogskin cloaks. Plate 29b shows details below the neck border of the inner surface of a cloak in the Auckland Museum.

In some cloaks, single lines of a two-pair weft were introduced about 1.8 cm. apart. These lines could be easily followed across the surface of the garment owing to the upper pair of the four element weft crossing the warps from above downwards, Fig. 20b. This broke the even appearance caused by the other elements crossing from below upwards. The spaced lines of the four-element weft served as a guide for the even attachment of the dogskin strips. Mention has been made of the mahiti cloak with a close twined body decorated with tassels of dogs' hair.

COLOURED BAND.—In a dogskin cloak mentioned above, decoration is introduced into a narrow band along the neck border by using a reddish brown strand in each weft pair. The coloured strand appears over every alternate warp, Fig. 20c. In each succeeding weft line, the weft strands are arranged to bring out the coloured element below the white one in the row above. This results in oblique lines of reddish brown and white. In Plate 20, the narrow strip of this work is shown between the upper margin above and the row of wide twining below. Owing to the coloured strands having faded, the oblique lines do not show up very clearly. The single row of wide twining fastens the extra strips of dogskin near the neck border to form the ornamental kurupatu on the outer side of the cloak. Below this, the ordinary close single-pair twining of the body is plainly seen. The braided cord attached to the upper border is one of the pair for tying the cloak over the shoulder.

That a more ambitious scheme of decoration than the above was attempted in this technique is proved by Ling Roth's 4 description of a cloak from the Captain Cook collection in the Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford. The cloak itself - 66 has single-paired twined rows .47 cm. apart. “The border along the bottom, 10 cm. deep, is dark brown with small triangles of a lighter brown top and bottom. This border is not taniko but consists of 84 rows single-paired placed close together. Some of the ends are knotted together here and there at the back.” With single-pair twining, it would be necessary to change both elements at the sides of the triangles of different colour. It is evident from the description that the ends of the weft elements were knotted at the back where the changes were made.


WEFT TECHNIQUE.—The weft contains two pairs of elements which enclose each warp by one pair crossing in front of it and then passing back between the two elements of the posterior pair. The posterior pair is brought forward to cross in front of the next warp, whilst the other pair now passes behind and in turn has its two elements diverged to allow the new anterior pair to pass between. In this manner, the two pairs of weft threads are carried across the warps and change position on each warp. It is always the posterior pair that has its threads diverged to enclose the anterior pair. See Fig. 21. When the anterior

Spaced two-pair interlocking weft.
- 67

pair has passed between the elements of the other, the two pairs are drawn tightly against the warp which is thus securely locked in position.

WEFT COMMENCEMENT.—The two-pair weft line is commenced on the left marginal warp in three different ways.

  • (a) Two weft threads are doubled at their mid point over the warp to form four elements of which two pass behind and two in front, Fig. 21a. In dress cloaks, this is the most common method and results in there being no knot on the left side border during manufacture. When the garment is worn, the border without knots is of course on the right side;
  • (b) Four weft threads are knotted together at one end with an overhand knot and then separated into two pairs to pass on either side of the marginal warp, Fib. 21b. It is a similar technique to the first but there are knots on the outer side of the marginal warp;
  • (c) The third method is similar to the lark's head opening with the single-pair weft. Two threads are doubled at their middle and the bight or loop passed behind the marginal warp from the outside. The four elements are brought over the front of the warp and passed through the bight. One pair then passes in front of the next warp and the other behind it to carry on the interlocking stroke, Fig. 21c.

The left marginal warp is usually a two-ply twisted cord. The weft elements generally pass round both strands of the cords but if the cord is thicker than usual, they may pass round one strand only. The lark's head method, c, is used in fixing the selvedge commencement of the taniko to the left border of the work.

WEFT FINISH.—The finish of the two-pair weft lines on the right margin has been described. See Fig. 18. A reef knot may be used instead of an overhand knot.

SPACING.—The two-pair weft is always spaced. Sometimes a few rows are placed close together near the lower border of a cloak. The weft interval varies according to the class of garment as shown in Table 2.

USE OF THE TWO-PAIR WEFT.—This technique is a great improvement on the single-pair weft which it supplanted in dress cloaks. It came largely into use in rain capes and kilts. - 68 Even in rain capes made with a single-pair weft, the first weft row for setting up the warps is now usually made with a two-pair. Plate 30a shows this usage in the rain cape figured in Plate 16. Though the first weft row made, it is of course at the bottom in the completed garment. It is also used throughout in some kilts of which Plate 30b is an excellent example from the white weft pairs showing up so well on the black warps. Plate 30c shows the inner surface of a tag cloak in which black warps are arranged in alternate strips with the white for colour effect. On these black strips the white weft pairs again show up excellently. Example d in Plate 30 shows the two-pair weft on a plain body cloak. Small fringed satchels of dressed fibre were made with this technique but they are a modern innovation adapted by the women folk for the purpose of obtaining a meagre share of European currency. Even mantel drapes, table centres and tea cosies have been made as Maori contributions to church bazaars and with still more modern additions derived from macrame work, they have passed out into circulation as samples of true Maori technique. So they are in a sense, but their time sequence must be borne in mind. The use of the two-pair weft for suspending the work between the weaving sticks in kilts, capes and rain cloaks made with the single-pair weft is quite natural from the firm interlocking character of the stroke. It is as firm as knotting the warps together. It is thus used to form a selvedge commencement for the taniko bands of cloaks and also as a means of finishing off these bands.

NAME.—The Maori name for the two-pair weft is aho rua which means two threads. It is so-called in distinction to single-pair twining because the weft is handled in twos and two elements appear on either surface. In the case of the single-pair weft, it was possible from the identical technique in basketry to adopt terms used in that craft. Thus Ling Roth termed it single-pair twining, and plain twined weaving was used by Otis Mason. Such a clear lead is not so evident for the peculiar technique of the two-pair weft. With coarse weft threads each weft row appears like two lines of single-pair twining, with the elements of the upper line crossing the warps from above downwards and those of the lower from below upwards. Attention has already been drawn to the use made of this difference of direction in the upper pair as a guide to stitching the green- - 69 hide strips on the dogskin cloaks. Fig. 21 shows this appearance where XA is the upper pair and BY, the lower. This appearance led Ling Roth 5 to term the technique counterpairing from its resemblance to counter-pairing in basketry. This appearance, however, is the effect of the technique described. The pairs are not worked in the combination of the upper and lower as shown by XA and BY. The working combination is AB and XY which are the inner and outer pairs of the Figure and which are identical with the anterior and posterior described in the technique. The stroke is an interlocking one though the effect appears as twining. To avoid confusion, therefore, the term “two-pair interlocking weft” is used in this article.

WARP AND WOOF.—It is the horizontal elements (aho) that are separated in pairs to form a shed as it were, for the vertical elements (whenu.) A knowledge of field work caused Mr. T.H. Smith 6 to maintain that the vertical strands represented the woof or weft “carried by the shuttle between the rising and falling threads of the warp in the ordinary process of weaving.” This conclusion was based on true textile or loom weaving with which the two-pair interlocking technique has no affinity. As the vertical elements are suspended it is more convenient to regard them as warps whilst the element which crosses them at right angles performs the functions of the weft though in a different manner to its namesake in loom weaving.


Except for the elaborate geometrical designs in colour, taniko is exactly similar in surface appearance to close single-pair twining. The technique, however, differs considerably. We have seen that a design in one stroke diagonal lines was produced in close single-pair twining by introducing a coloured element into the pair. This required no knotting except where the weft element ran out. The scope for colour design in this technique was very limited. Coloured triangles were, however, worked with it as proved by the Cook cloak already mentioned in the Pitt-Rivers Museum. This must have necessitated the knotting of the weft elements at each change of colour. Such an interrupted - 70 disjointed technique could not satisfy the artistic genius of the Maori craftswoman. She solved the problem of utilising colour at will without unnecessary knotting, by resorting to a modification of wrapped twined weaving that has been described under basketry.

THE TANIKO STROKE.—In basketry, we have seen that in wrapped twined weaving there are two elements in the weft. One weft element passes horizontally behind the warp elements. The other weft element is wrapped round the crossings of the horizontal element with the vertical warps, Figs. 5d and 6d. In taniko work, an even strand of each proposed colour was used. At the most, these were four—black, white, reddish-brown and yellow. These formed a weft of four elements. The three colours not required at the time were kept together as a composite passive cord which passed horizontally behind the warps. The colour desired to show on the surface was separated from the others and wrapped round the crossing of the horizontal three-colour cord with the vertical warps. See Fig. 22.

Wrapped twined weft, taniko—(a) Anterior; (b) Posterior.

The wrapping element gave the colour on the surface of the taniko. It crossed the warp anteriorly from below upwards and to the right. After crossing one warp, it passed back in the warp interspace above the horizontal elements, descended vertically behind it and came forward again below it in the same interspace. It was then carried on over the next warp in a similar manner. The weft lines were worked from left to right. By working the weft lines as closely together as possible, a close thick fabric was - 71 formed. In good work, neither the warp elements nor the posterior horizontal constituents of the weft are to be seen. The wrapping element alone shows on either surface. In front, the wrapping elements show the diagonal upward slant to the right and in this way superficially resembles close twined work, Plate 32a. At the back as they enter and leave by the same interspace, they are vertical except where the colour changes are made. See Plate 32b.

CHANGING THE COLOUR.—The modification to the wrapped twined weaving of basketry consists in the composite nature of the horizontal weft cord which permits the working of colour designs. When a change of colour was required on the surface, all that had to be done was to change the wrapping element. This was quite simple. After a colour crossed the last warp on which it was desired to show, instead of reappearing below the horizontal cord, it simply displaced the required colour and continued on horizontally with the composite cord at the back of the warps. The coloured strand desired to replace it, was separated from the horizontal cord and brought forward from below it in the same interspace into which its predecessor had disappeared. It carried on the work of wrapping the crossings until the design demanded a change of colour. Thus the worker could bring out at will any one of her colours on any warp she desired. This simple technique is plainly shown in Fig. 22, where the colour changes in front and behind can be easily followed.

THE STIFFENING ELEMENT.—Up to now, mention of another element in the horizontal cord has been omitted purposely. This is a white two-ply twisted cord which never leaves it to take part in the wrapping. When the wrapping element of the weft is pulled forward in the warp interspaces, it also tends to pull the horizontal passive elements forward. The white twist is pulled every now and then to prevent kinking and to tighten and straighten the work. From its size and twist, it is never confused with the white strand used in wrapping to supply the white colour to the design. See Fig. 22.

SETTING UP THE TANIKO WARPS.—(a) Mention has been made of the manner in which the taniko warps were set up in the selvedge commencement with a single line of a two-pair interlocking weft. It differs from the cloak selvedge commencement in that the taniko warps are locked - 72 at their middle so that the bent over part functions as a complete warp instead of being merely a short end to fix the selvedge. In the cloak selvedge, the turned over short end is included under the same weft stroke as a fresh warp. In the taniko selvedge, the turned over long length has an interlocking stroke to itself and is not included with a fresh warp. The following figures show the order in which the fresh warps and the turned over parts are included in the

Setting up taniko warps.

weft. Figures, however, whilst helping to make the technique clear, often look more complicated than the actual process. Thus Fig. 23d looks complicated as to which elements pass in front and which behind, whilst reference to the numbers entails some mental effort. In reality, the process is very simple. The first two warps are fixed at their middle points by the weft, Fig. 23a.

The left one is bent round at the back of the other one, fixed by the weft and another fresh warp added, Fig. 23b. Again two warps project above the weft line. As before, - 73 the left one is bent round at the back of the other, fixed by the weft and a fresh warp added, Fig. 23c. So as the process goes on, the left warp is bent round at the back and a fresh warp added. This results diagramatically in Fig. 23d.

(b) The selvedge commencement is the common one in taniko work. Occasionally the simple thrum commencement shown in Fig. 16, was used. The warps are single and are kept together at one end by a single row of a two-pair interlocking weft. The warp enďs forming the thrums are, however, cut off much shorter than in the thrum commencement of cloaks. Thus along the upper border of taniko band in Plate 26, they are between 1 and 2 mm. in length whilst in the tag cloak figured in Plate 20, they are fully 4 cm. In the latter case, they serve a further purpose by acting as a fringe at the lower border when the garment is worn.

POSITION FOR WORKING TANIKO.—With the exception of the left hand border of the plain cloaks with vertical weft lines (Plate 26), the taniko borders were worked after the completion of the body of the cloak. The selvedge commencements carrying the taniko warps, where demanded by the type of cloak, were fixed to the body by the body weft lines treating them as marginal warps as already noted (Figs. 18c and 18d). The cloak was rearranged between the weaving sticks to allow the taniko warps to hang down vertically, Fig. 24. This allowed the weft lines to be worked

Taniko warps in position—(a) Left weaving stick; (b) Body of cloak; (c) Taniko selvedge; (d) First taniko weft row; (e) Taniko warps.
- 74

horizontally from left to right. The order in which the borders were worked depended on tribal or individual treatment to be discussed later.

COMMENCEMENT OF WEFT LINE.—The background of the taniko designs is black. The Whanganui tribes, who are still experts in this work, dye the taniko warps black to prevent any traces of white warps showing between the wrapping elements of the weft. They are then called kahuki to distinguish them from the white warps of the body or whenu.

As the colour designs do not commence or end at the side edges of the band (in the working position), each weft line must commence and end with the black wrapping element in use. In commencing, the clean cut ends of the weft elements, except black, are behind the marginal warp or the first warp interspace so as not to project beyond the margin. The black wrapping element has a short end doubled back with the composite cord behind a few warps. See a in Fig. 25.

Weft row commencement—(a) Anterior; (b) Posterior. M., Left marginal warp—(a) Black element (short end); (b) Black element (wrapping end); (c) Posterior composite cord.

The other long end, b, is passed round the marginal warp, M, and then wrapped round the successive warps with the usual technique until a colour-change is required. As it passes round the composite cord, c, it effectively fixes its own short end, a. Sometimes the ordinary marginal warp is thickened by an additional element, usually black, which, of course, is fixed above by the two-pair row in a selvedge commencement. Occasionally one of the other coloured weft elements is also hitched round the marginal warp but the black element has to do the wrapping. In cases where the left end of the band being worked is bounded by another - 75 taniko band, the selvedge commencement of the latter is treated as a marginal warp. See Plate 31c.

FINISH OF WEFT LINE.—Here again, the black wrapping element of the weft is in use right up to the warp immediately preceding the last marginal one. It is impossible, therefore, to double it back on itself in the same row. The next possible thing is done by doubling it round the marginal warp and fixing its free end at the back of the warps with the wrapping element of the next weft row.

Weft row finish—(a) Anterior; (b) Posterior, M., Right marginal warp. P., Posterior composite cord—(1) First black wrapping element; (2) Second black wrapping element.

The other weft elements are cut off behind the marginal warp after they emerge from the last wrapping stroke of the black element. The same method applies where the right end of the taniko being worked is bounded by the selvedge commencement of another band.

TANIKO BAND FINISH.—(a) The finish at the lower border of the taniko band is usually made with a single row of a two-pair interlocking weft. This is carried across immediately below the last taniko weft row that closes or completes the design. The ends of the taniko warps are doubled over and included under the two-pair weft as it makes a stroke over the third warp further on. The technique is exactly similar to the selvedge commencement in cloaks as shown in Fig. 17, except that the ends are cut off short, see Fig. 27b. On the anterior surface, the two-pair weft row is concealed by a two-strand twine of two colours. This is effected by including each strand of the twine alternately under the weft stroke on every fourth warp. Each strand enters under the weft pair from below to maintain the twine. See Fig. 27a, where the strand is somewhat - 76 diverged to show the technique. In the actual process, the two strands are drawn closely together and the twine completely conceals the two-pair weft row anteriorly. The warp

Finish of taniko band—(a) Anterior; (b) Posterior.

on which the strands are caught may be closer together or further apart according to taste. A three-strand twine may be used in a similar manner. These concealing twines were a favourite method of finishing off the free margins of taniko bands. They were sometimes used at the junction of the cloak with the upper margin of the band.

(b) A neater finish is made by dispensing with the two-pair weft row. Two white and two red strands are plaited in neatly with the warp ends in a four-ply plait. As the warps are fixed by a few turns of the plait, they are successively dropped on the posterior surface of the band and then cut off very close. At the end of the band, the strands and the last warp ends are continued on in a free cord. This tail is doubled back, pushed through the textile from the back close under the marginal plait, pushed through the textile again about 1 cm. further on and tied with an overhand knot at the back to prevent it slipping through the hole. See Fig. 28. This method of fixation is interesting as it has been adopted from the technique of plaiting mats. It

Finish of taniko band—(a) Anterior; (b) Posterior; M., Right margin.
- 77

makes a much neater margin than the other and the two white and two red strands give a closer and neater finish than the two-strand twine with the other method. The disposal of the tail is not noticed without careful examination.

TANIKO JUNCTIONS.—Where the side borders and the lower borders junction, the overlapping border provides a selvedge commencement which is treated like the marginal warp in Fig. 26. For instance the Whanganui tribes prefer to make the lower border the same width as the body. The side border thus overlaps the bottom one as in Fig. 29a.

Overlapping taniko bands.

As the body G (with horizontal weft lines) is worked, the warps for the taniko side borders L and R are set up with a selvedge commencement and attached as described before. These selvedge commencements indicated by the lines S.S., are produced beyond the lower border of the body G, for a sufficient length to overlap the estimated depth of the lower border B. As the lower border B has to make use of the selvedge commencement of the left and right borders, it has to be worked first to enable the fixation weft element to pass round the selvedge before it is blocked by the completed taniko work. Thus the overlapping borders are done last. Hence the weft lines of B commence on the left by passing round the commencing selvedge S.S. of the left border L, in the same manner as round a marginal warp, Fig. 25. On the right they are fixed round the S.S. of the right border R. The left border is now worked. Twist the diagram mentally so that the left taniko warps hang vertically as in Fig. 24. The weft lines will commence and - 78 finish on marginal warps. If R is twisted round into working position, a similar procedure takes place.

Other tribes prefer to have the bottom border the full width of the garment including the side borders. This is shown in Fig. 29b where B overlaps L and R and so provides the selvedge commencement S.S. Here, as before, the overlapping border must have its commencing selvedge of taniko warps fixed to the body and produced on either side, and it must be worked last. Thus the cloak will be set as in Fig. 24 to have the left border warp hanging vertically. The weft lines will commence on the left round a marginal warp and finish on the right hand around the selvedge commencement S.S. of the bottom border B. Now twist the diagram so that the warps of the right border R hang vertically from the body. Here the weft lines will commence on the left round the selvedge commencement S.S. of B. See Plate 31c. The wefts finish on the right round a marginal warp. After that, the bottom border is hung in position as in the figure. Its selvedge commencement S.S. is now fixed throughout its course by L and R and the body G. Its weft lines will commence on the left round a marginal warp and finish round a marginal warp on the right.

TANIKO DESIGNS.—All lines in taniko run obliquely. Though it would have been just as easy to make the strokes with particular colours in successive rows vertically beneath each other and so form squares and rectangles, it was not done. It would seem as if the forced oblique direction of the coloured elements in the older craft of plaiting, influenced the direction of design in taniko as it did in the decorative house panels worked with coloured cross stitches.

The simplest designs are in the extremely narrow borders of dogskin cloaks. These are not seen externally through being concealed by the hair of the greenhide strips. The patterns were worked from the inside and were meant to show as an inner facing when the edges of the cloak were turned back. The rough ends of the warps cut off above the plaited finishing edge, were thus on the external surface and also concealed by the hair. We have already seen where close twining for decorative effect was used with these garments as shown in Plate 29b. An example of taniko work is shown in Plate 31a. The actual taniko part consists of four rows of wrapped twining and is 8 mm. wide whilst the plaited edging is 4 mm. Broad oblique bands of - 79 11 strokes in each row are worked in black and reddish-brown. Unfortunately the black element has rotted in places and blurred the design. However, this decay has exposed the posterior horizontal weft cord on the external surface and proved without doubt that this primitive looking design has been worked with the taniko technique. Fig. 30 shows the simple design.

Taniko patten on dogskin cloak.

It is of course impossible to work out much geometrical design with four rows of coloured wrappings but why were these borders restricted to such narrow limits? It would almost seem from the narrowness of the band, the poor design and the use of only two colours, as if the experimental stage in taniko decoration was carried out on dogskin cloaks and that association of ideas fixed this initial form as an appropriate decoration for these garments.

With a wider band, other motives were possible. Thus in Plate 31b, we have the side border of the kiwi cloak figured in Plate 22. The band is 3.4 cm. in width and the design consists of alternating sets of chevrons giving a triangle effect with their bases on one margin and their apices on the other. The chevrons are enhanced internally by repetition of their generating lines. A brief description of this design is given to show how the weft is manipulated. Unfortunately the reddish-brown and yellow colours do not show up in the Plate, but the description may be followed on Fig. 31.

Taniko chevron design.
- 80

The first weft line below the selvedge commencement is black throughout. On the second weft row, the design has to be set up. The colours used were black, white, reddish-brown and yellow. From the left marginal weft commencement, the black element is wrapped round the crossings of the posterior horizontal cord with nine warps. The base of the first chevron series in alternating yellow and black, has now to be set up. Within the bounding yellow chevron, there are two blacks, another yellow and a middle small triangle which is merely the point of another yellow chevron. The limbs of the chevrons contain three weft strokes per row. On the base line, on either side of the middle triangle, there must, therefore, be set up the limbs of two yellow and two black chevrons. After crossing the ninth warp, the black element of the weft joins its colleagues in the horizontal cord. In the same interspace and from beneath the latter, the yellow element is brought forward. It is wrapped round three warps and then rejoins the horizontal cord whilst the black is again produced and wrapped round three warps. Then follow three yellow and three black. The left limbs of the chevrons are thus set up. The base of the small triangle is then set up in five yellows. After that follows a repetition of three black, three yellow, three black, and three yellow to set up the right limbs of the chevrons making 29 strokes for the base of the series.

Between the above and the next chevron set, there is a dividing black band of 14 strokes. To preserve the alternating character and incidentally the symmetry of the design, the next set of chevrons which are red and white, must have its point or apex on the base line. Thus after the 14th black, comes one red. Then for even work comes 14 blacks to form a dividing space. This brings us to the commencement of another set of yellow and black chevrons, when the process repeats itself. Using the initial letter of the colour, we can set up the design in the following formula:—

(B9), Y3, B3, Y3, B3, Y5, B3, Y3, B3, Y3, B14, R1, B14.

Except for the marginal bracketted B9, the whole length of the second weft line will be a repetition of the above formula. Toward the right margin, the repetition will end when there is not enough room to set up the base of another chevron set. It would be too difficult to arrange the warps to finish symmetrically with nine marginal warps. The - 81 slight difference in the width of the black marginal spaces is not noticed in the general effect. In the band figured, it commenced with nine and ended with twenty-four.

Succeeding weft rows develop the design automatically. When the motive requires the direction of its defining lines to be downwards and to the right, the particular colour element in each successive row must move on one warp to the right. When the direction required is downwards and to the left, the colour element must commence or end one warp space earlier on the left. Thus in the third row, the marginal blacks move one to the right by crossing ten warps instead of 9. This gives the right direction to the first two yellow and two black lines of three strokes each which form the left limbs of the first set of chevrons. Similarly the right limbs of the chevrons are given the right direction by the colours commencing one warp earlier to the left. This change is brought about by the convergence of the sides of the small yellow triangle in the middle of the base, Fig. 32a. Here as we have seen, there are five yellows on the second

Taniko chevron design—;(a) Base; (b) Apex.

row. On the third row there are three and on the fourth row, one. On the fourth row, the converging limbs of the innermost black chevron are separated by only one yellow. On the fifth row, the two limbs coalesce whilst in the seventh row, they end in a point of one stroke. In the next row, the converging limbs of a yellow chevron coalesce and so the process goes on until the point of the large outer yellow chevron is formed. The design being completed, this weft row is the last.

Fig. 32b shows the development of the next series of red and white chevrons. It started on the second weft line with one red. As the lines must diverge from this as an apex, the third row must contain three reds and the fourth five. The - 82 next row (fifth) contains seven strokes but as the full width of each limb is only three, there is a stroke too many for the reds. The design demands that the threes on either side must continue as diverging limbs of the outer red chevron. The middle odd weft stroke, therefore, forms a point or apex for an inner white chevron. Following down the outer limbs of the red chevron carry on whilst the inner white has three strokes on the sixth row, five on the seventh, and on the eighth the limbs reach their full width and are separated by the apex of another commencing red chevron. Thus the set goes on naturally until it reaches the last row which is announced by the apex of the first inverted series of chevrons.

In these alternating series, the inverted series converge to an apex whilst the other diverge from an apex. As the converging series diminishes by two strokes on each successive weft row, so the diverging series increases by two strokes. Each is, therefore, complementary to the other and the number of black strokes in the dividing spaces between them will be the same throughout. In designs such as the above, the craftswoman after setting up her design on the second weft row, does not need to count her strokes on each successive row. She takes her cue from the colours in the row above and changes her working colour on the warp to the left or the warp to the right as the design demands.

The depth of the band is influenced by the number of strokes in the base of the series of chevrons or triangle. She carries on until the converging lines of the main motive run together in an apex of one stroke. Thus the base must contain an odd number of strokes. The number of weft rows necessary “to close a design,” as it is termed, is easily calculated. In the chevron series described, the base contains 29 strokes. As two strokes are dropped in each row, if 29 is divided by two and the odd number left over is added for the apical stroke, we get 15. Thus it takes 15 weft rows before a base of 29 strokes will reach its apex of one stroke.

Plate 31c is the side border of a plain body cloak. The band is 4.6 cm. in width. The motive consists of alternating triangles with coloured bands down the middle of the black spaces separating them. The triangles here are true triangles symmetrically composed of smaller triangles of equal size. The base of each triangle consists of nine strokes. As

- v
Photos by W. R. Reynolds., Taniko Bands. a—Dogskin cloak, b—Feather cloak, side border. c—Plain body cloak, side border. d—Bottom border of ‘c.’ (a) Auckland Museum; (b,c & d) Buck collection.
- vi
Photos by W. R. Reynolds., Wrapped Twined Weft, taniko. a—Anterior surface. b—Posterior surface. Buck collection.
- 83

on the base line of each large triangle, there are the bases of five inverted smaller ones and the apices of four others between them, we have 49 strokes on the base. Dividing 49 by two and adding the odd number for the apex, we get 25 as the number of weft lines required to close the design. The separating coloured bands are better seen in Plate 32a.

Plate 32a shows up the actual strokes of the work. It is an enlargement of the lower border of the kiwi cloak figured in Plate 22. The actual width of the design is 6.8 cm. Here the coloured separating bands show up as a series of ones and threes arranged in threes with pleasing effect. This is one of the cases in which a count must be kept

Taniko “laughing teeth” pattern.

to avoid mistakes. The count is one white and three blacks repeated three times whilst on the next row it is three whites and one black. Where the lines are directed downwards to the left, it is plain sailing for the first white stroke in each row starts on the warp to the left of the first white above it, Fig. 33a. In lines directed downwards to the right owing to the nature of the pattern, our rule of one to the right is modified. The three whites must start one to the left of the single white above it to get the small triangular effect desired. The first single white of the next row must be placed below the first single black in the row above. See Fig. 33b. Thus the change in direction and the design are accomplished. This is a favourite means of separating triangles and lozenges. Variety is secured by changing the colour of one the three small triangles as in Plate 31, c and d. These sets of small triangles in ones and threes are called niho kata, laughing teeth or incisors to distinguish them from larger triangles which are called niho pu, back teeth or molars.

The central motive in Plate 32 really consists of triangles which in the enlarged figure are placed base to base and thus give a lozenge effect. The internal hour-glass effect is produced by the apices of two black triangles coming - 84 together and if the constricted parts are examined, it will be seen that each triangle has its own apex of one stroke. Similarly the small white lozenge-like figures along the middle transverse line consist of two triangles with their own bases of seven strokes. The base of the large composite triangle consists of four sets of seven whites and three intervening black singles, making 31 strokes in all. This requires 16 weft rows to produce and as a similar inverted triangle is continued beyond it, 32 weft rows are required to close the two triangles into a lozenge effect or waharua as it is called. The symmetry of the design is maintained by spacing the lozenges sufficiently to allow two opposing triangles to be placed between them with their apices meeting in the middle line.

Reference back to Plate 24 will show a still wider band where two lozenges are worked end to end. This is a double width band with repetition of the same motive.

Plate 31d also shows a double width band but with a different motive in each width. The band is 15 cm. wide and contains 73 weft rows. The upper motive consists of two horizontal lines of continuous chevron in red and white. The lower consists of large alternating triangles in red and white and black and white whilst the separating bands of the “laughing teeth” pattern are in red and white.

USE OF TANIKO.—Taniko work took more time than close single-pair twining and was thus never used in making a full-sized cloak. In any case, its stiffness would have made it an undesirable garment except for protection in battle. Here, however, close single-pair twining was as efficacious and took less time and trouble in manufacture. The use of taniko was thus restricted to coloured bands for embellishing the sides and lower borders of plain body cloaks and in the narrower bands of dogskin cloaks. In the latter, they were used on the sides and sometimes along the neck, but apparently never at the bottom. Its use with feather cloaks is now fairly common but is held to be modern. It has been used as a cover for the old fashioned poi balls with the long string. Modern also is the use of taniko in the upper bands of kilts, fillets, baldrics, belts and satchels.

OMENS.—It is clear from the account of the weft technique that it was desirable to complete a weft row and effectively fix it at the right hand margin before laying it aside for the next day's work. Otherwise there was the liability - 85 of the uncompleted row becoming loosened and the inconvenience of picking up the interrupted design. Thus carelessness and laziness were banished to some extent by making it an ill omen to stop the day's sitting before completing the row. Another ill omen was to allow anyone to look on when the taniko design was being worked. The idea at the back of this was that the interloper might steal the design or make it go wrong. There was always a certain amount of rivalry among craftswomen and no doubt destructive criticism sometimes had the desired effect. Even now, civilised women do not like others looking on and copying a crochet pattern. Unauthorised copying was regarded by uncivilised woman as stealing. She diplomatically made it an ill omen and counteracted it by pulling up the right weaving stick and letting it fall over the other. The other woman understood. Custom and usage thus concealed a working design under the more polite term of averting an ill omen.

CORRECTION.—The statement was formerly made by the writer 7 that war cloaks and dogskin cloaks were made with the same technique as taniko. This error was committed 18 years ago when little field work had been done. My informant, though quite aware of the difference in technique, thought that a surface resemblance was near enough information for those who were not going to use the technique. Ling Roth 8 discovered the mistake before the writer could rectify it in any article dealing with the subject. Though a confession has already been made in this Journal, 9 it is as well to again stress the difference here.


The above four methods of dealing with the weft are those that were in common use. There are, however, two other methods that were evidently not so common.


Hamilton 10 described an unusual technique in a coarse cloak of partly dressed flax that was found wrapped round a skeleton in a rock shelter in the Upper Taieri, Central - 86 Otago. The warps are very thick (9 mm.) and consist of three-ply braid. The weft contains two elements of which the passive one passes horizontally across the warps whilst the active one after passing over each warp, takes a half-hitch round the passive element in the warp interspaces. See Fig. 34. This figure copied from Hamilton shows the

Spaced half-hitch weft. (After Hamilton.)

anterior element as the passive one. It is much more likely that the garment was made from the other side and that the posterior element was the passive one as in Fig. 35d. Mr. H. D. Skinner 11 in kindly examining the technique for me, says that the posterior strand is less passive than indicated in the figure. “In fact, it bends in so much that the first impression on examining it is that it is as active as its brother.”

This bending in of both elements is very natural in friable material. In the wrapped twined weaving of basketry, the posterior passive element does not bend forward because it is of rigid material. Fig. 35a. In the wrapped twined weaving of taniko, in spite of the posterior passive element being thicker, it has a tendency to bend forward because it is of friable material. This tendency is counteracted by the special two-ply cord which is pulled every now and then to straighten the work and thus confers rigidity, so to speak, on the passive posterior element, Fig. 35b. When the posterior element is friable and no special effort is made to keep it straight, it bends in equally with its brother and what would have been a wrapped twined weave becomes a full twine as in Fig. 35c. In the single-pair twining already described, each warp is enclosed by a half turn of the weft - 87 pair but in full twining, each warp is enclosed by a full turn of the weft pair, Fig. 35c. The technique of full twining has been described by Willoughby 12 in Californian feather mantles.

(a) Wrapped twine-basketry; (b) Taniko; (c) Full twined weft; (d) Half-hitch weft.

Just as full twining may be derived from basketry so the spaced half-hitch weft may have been easily derived from house building. In thatching the house walls, vertical bundles of raupo, Typha angustifolia, were fixed to horizontal wooden rods or battens by strips of flax passed over them and making a half hitch turn round the posterior wooden batten. Except for size and material, the object and the technique are identical, Fig. 35d. If in Hamilton's cloak, the active weft element, instead of making a half-hitch with the passive, merely passed round it, a full twine would have resulted as in the Californian cloaks.

The half-hitch weft seems very primitive. The fact that it is associated with very thick warps made of partly dressed flax with the golden hue of the inner surface still adhering in parts and plaited into a three-strand braid, supports this. The garment was used as a mortuary robe but the working in of feathers makes it unlikely that it was used exclusively in connection with corpses. The Maori used any cloak in ordinary wear to wrap round their dead. It is significant, however, that Mr. J. F. G. Stokes 13 found two mortuary cloaks - 88 in Rapa Island in which the warps consisted of three-strand braid. In one of them, the weft lines were spaced but the technique consisted of wrapped work as in Figs. 5a and 5b.

So far as is known, no fragments of clothing with the half-hitch weft have been found in the North Island. Its presence in the South Island alone is rendered further significant by Mr. H. D. Skinner's recent work 14 showing the affinity between Moriori culture and that of the southern part of the South Island. As he points out, if the Moriori genealogies are to be relied on, the latest connection between the Moriori of the Chatham Islands and New Zealand occurred about A.D. 1200. The southern culture would thus predate this. The historic fleet from Eastern Polynesia did not arrive until a century and a-half later. Does the half-hitch technique belong to the older culture and did it precede the great development of single-pair twining and two-pair weft technique that is so characteristic of the art when Europeans arrived? The available data seems to give it precedence.


Ling Roth 15 has drawn attention to the existence of woven borders in some of the Maori garments examined by him. In a tag mantle in the Cambridge Museum, 16 the woven border along the bottom was 1.3 cm. wide. The warps of the border were continuations of the warps of the body of the cloak. The weft material was a brown phormium twine. The coloured weft was woven with a twilled-two stroke into parallel diagonal lines. See Fig. 36.

In a kiwi feather cloak in the Pitt-Rivers Museum, 17 Oxford, the coloured weft lines are woven to form a zig-zag design. As there is a “crude arrangement in red and blue worsted” on the sides, there is no doubt as to this example being post-European. The design is not uncommon in the more modern cloaks made of knitting cotton and coloured worsted. The example shown in Plate 33a is a modern composite tag and feather cloak made of white knitting cotton. The white warps of the cloak are continued on

- vii
Photos by W. R. Reynolds. Twilled Weavings. a—Tag and feather cloak. b—Waist band of kilt. c—Dogskin cloak, side border. (a & b) Buck collection; (c) Auckland Museum.
- viii
Photo by W. Simpson. Spaced Half-hitch Weft. Cloak fragment (University Museum, Dunedin).
- 89
Figure 36.
Twilled-two weave. (After Ling Roth.)

through the woven band whilst the weft elements consist of black worsted. The band is near the lower border of the cloak. It commences and ends 3.6 cm. from the side margins of the cloak. The strips between the woven band and the cloak margins are treated with the usual spaced two-pair weft. In the garment figured, there is a second woven band near the neck border. In other garments, a double course is woven across the middle of the cloak. Between them runs a single row of the two-pair interlocking weft and the two courses are arranged so that the zig-zag lines meet to form lozenges as figured by Ling Roth. 18 The weaving is often irregular at the ends of the band owing to the method of commencing and finishing the weft lines. In commencing, a single length of black worsted is doubled round the last warp fixed by the two-pair weft. Two weft elements are thus formed which are carried along in a twilled-two weave. In some cases, two lengths of worsted are knotted together with an overhand knot instead of one being doubled. See Fig. 37a. In finishing, the weft ends are secured under three or four strokes of the two-pair weft used in the space between the woven band and cloak margin. The two-pair weft lines are a little closer together on this side than on the other to obviate too many weft endings from the woven band being included under them. Fig. 37b shows three black weft ends caught under three strokes - 90 of the two-pair wefts for three rows. The lowest three black ends are shown as being caught once and turned to the back. Here they are simply knotted or allowed to hang down to be caught again by the next weft line. The inclusion of three or more weft endings in spaced two-pair weft lines, draws the black wefts out of line and makes an untidy finish. The band in Plate 33a, owing to the thickness of the material, is 5.3 cm. wide. In a tag cloak in the

Twilled band in cloak—(a) Left commencement; (b) Right finish.

Auckland Museum, where the material was entirely of flax fibre, the band was much narrower.

Mention has already been made of a similar weave in the waist band of some kilts such as that figured in Plate 15. The band is 4.6 cm. wide. An enlarged section is shown in Plate 33b. The warps are the continuations of the black scraped ends of the flaxen rolls whilst the wefts consist of ten thick white cords of flax fibre. The zig-zag design is exactly the same as in the cloak. Fig. 38a shows that the weave is a twilled-two except at the points of the chevrons where the strokes are changed to a one and a three to form the design. On the left of the figure, the weft elements are joined together at the free edge by a single row of single-pair twining. The weft elements are doubled over as in the selvedge commencement shown in Fig. 23 with the difference that the fixing row is single-pair twining instead of two-pair interlocking. At the finishing end, the five pairs of weft elements are twisted into a three-ply braid as each - 91 pair passes alternately in front or behind the last warp, Fig. 38b. The three plies are individually included in a row

Twilled band of kilt—(a) Left commencement; (b) Right finish.

of single-pair twining which fixes them at the lower edge of the woven band and prevents undue dragging on the design. The surplus ends of the wefts are joined by the long ends of the neighbouring warps and are continued on as a braided cord for tying round the waist. Again it must be remembered that the kilt was made upside down and though the braid ending described above was finished on the right, in Plate 14 it is on the left.

The zig-zag design is called paheke by the Whanganui tribe and its production in twilled weaving is held by them to be pre-European. Any doubt is dispelled by the presence of similar narrow bands in the side and neck borders of dogskin cloaks. Plate 33c shows such a band from the side borders of the dogskin cloak figured in Plate 17. The technique is identical with that in the kilt even to the finish where the three-ply braid is made into a loop for hanging up the garment. The black weft picks are eight in number and the band is 2.1 cm. in width. Owing to the crowding together of the weft elements on the left to form the three-ply braid finish, the zig-zag design becomes irregular and lost.

Dogskin cloaks have not been made for many years. They belong to the conservative past and were too difficult to make to allow of experimenting with foreign ideas in the distracting period that followed European colonisation. The - 92 presence, therefore, of narrow borders worked in twilled twos in these cloaks is good evidence that this technique was used by the Maori before the advent of Europeans. It was, however, confined to narrow bands. The three-ply braid finish in dogskin cloaks and kilts would not permit of anything else. The rough and untidy commencement and finish of the woven bands in the more modern cloaks seem to savour of experiment as yet at an unsatisfactory stage. It does not comply with the standard of established Maori technique. Thus though true weaving existed, it stopped at decoration and there is no evidence that it was ever used on a more comprehensive scale or was evolving in that direction

In floor mats made with black and white strips of prepared flax, the individual strips were often kept temporarily together at the commencing border by a single twined row of two strips of flax. The three-ply braid finish at the finishing corner of plaited floor mats was also a common and in many varieties the usual procedure. In such mats, the usual stroke was a twilled-two and the lines of the coloured designs were oblique owing to the forced diagonal direction of the plaiting elements. When, therefore, we find in the narrow woven bands of dogskin cloaks and kilts, the commencing edge fixed with a single-pair twine, the three-ply braid finish and the twilled-two stroke used with black and white elements to form a zig-zag design identical with one used in the older art of plaiting, we cannot help thinking that in New Zealand this limited form of weaving was directly derived from plaiting. The evidence is against it being remembered from some lost higher culture. It is not feasible that after centuries of disuse in Polynesia that the Maori of New Zealand on experiencing a colder climate should remember an art that his remote ancestors may have been acquainted with. He had to rebuild on the knowledge that had been kept alive by use. Whilst the derivation of weaving from plaiting is questioned by many authorities, from the facts we have cited above, it would appear that the Maori twilled bands were directly derived from that art.

Through the kindness of Mr. H. D. Skinner, of Otago University, a photograph has been received of the unique South Island cloak described with the spaced half-hitch weft. It is figured in Plate 34.

(To be continued.)

1   H. Ling Roth, 1923. The Maori Mantle, Bankfield Museum, p. 26.
2   E. Best, 1898, Trans, N.Z. Inst., Vol. 31, p. 647.
3   Opt. cit.
4   Opt. cit., p. 63, No. 11.
5   Opt. cit., p. 26.
6   T. H. Smith, 1893, Tr. N.Z. Inst., Vol. 26, p. 431.
7   Te Rangihiroa, 1911. Dominion Museum Bulletin, No. 3, pp. 85-88.
8   Opt. cit., p. 51.
9   P. H. Buck, 1924, Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. 33, p. 75.
10   A. Hamilton, 1892, Trans. N.Z. Inst., Vol. 25, p. 487, plate 52.
11   H. D. Skinner, 1924. Private letter.
12   Charles C. Willoughby, 1922. Feather mantles of California, American Anthropologist, Vol. 24, No. 4, p. 434.
13   J. F. G. Stokes, photographs.
14   H. D. Skinner, 1923, The Moriori of the Chatham Islands. Memoirs Bishop Museum, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 132-133.
15   Opt. Cit., p. 24.
16   Opt. cit. p. 81.
17   Ling Roth, opt. cit., p. 87.
18   Opt. cit., p. 23.