Arts and Crafts of the Cook Islands
Caves and rock recesses were used in ancient days by the lower classes as temporary, and sometimes permanent, shelters. In Mangaia, the makatea wall of raised coral reef provided many such shelters. Large caves on the coast were used by fishing parties during fishing seasons. War refugees used the inaccessible and the easily defended caves in the cliffs. The greater part of the population, however, built houses ('are), and the sites of former chiefs' houses can still be pointed out.
It was not usual to build raised stone platforms as sites for the houses, although paved terraces were sometimes made on sloping ground. In front of an important house, a rectangular area was defined with stones and filled in with coral gravel. Such an area was termed paepae. Sometimes a large flat stone was erected on the paepae with a slight lean to serve as a backrest.
Building technique has been affected by the use of lime, sawn timber, and corrugated iron. However, some of the islands have continued to make the page 35smaller dwelling houses in the old pattern, and informants gave me authentic information about the types of houses formerly made.
I have described the structure of dwelling houses for Aitutaki (70, p. 2). Those in the other islands followed the same rectangular ground plan with slight local variations. There is no evidence that rounded ends, such as those of Tahiti and western Polynesia, were used in the Cook Islands. The ridgepole was supported directly by ridge posts at either end, and in larger houses extra ridge posts were used in the midline to give support to the longer ridgepole. The names of the parts of the framework (fig. 11) are as follows:
- ridge post: pou ta'u'u or pou metua
- ridgepole: ta'u'u (Mangaia, ta'u'u ngao)
- second ridgepole: taorangi (Mangaia, ta'u'u iti)
- third ridgepole: takiri ka'o (Mangaia, Rarotonga)
- wall post: pou turuturu or turuturu
- wall plate: rape (Rarotonga, a'u'ua)
- end plate: kape'u tara
- principal rafter: oka
- thatch rafter: ka'o
- purlin: tarava
- cave purlin: manuae (iniki)
- eave rods: kautoki
- walls: pa (Rarotonga, koro)
- door: ngutupa (Mangaia, ngu'are)
Figure 11.—House framework: a, side view; b, end view. Ridge posts (1, 1) of solid tree trunks erected first, with lower ends sunk in ground with standing part 11 feet or more according to size of house and pitch of roof; top ends cut concave to fit ridgepole or natural fork retained in cutting timber; ridgepole (2) placed in position; wall posts (3) sunk at four corners and at intervals along sides to support wall plate (4) on their upper ends which are treated like ridge posts; end plates (5) rested at both ends on side wall plates; principal rafters (6) of unworked poles about 3 inches in diameter, placed in opposing pairs about 4 feet apart with upper ends crossed over ridgepole and lower ends resting on wall plates; purlins (7) lashed horizontally at wide intervals above principal rafters to steady framework and support thatch rafters (8), consisting of peeled hibiscus rods, which are also placed in opposing pairs with upper ends crossing to form crotch to support second ridgepole (9), and with lower ends projecting beyond line of wall plate to form eaves; eave purlin (10) lashed to outer surface of lower ends of thatch rafters on either side.
The ridge posts and ridgepole were preferably of tamanu wood, and wild hibiscus was used for most of the other house parts.
The framework of the gable ends (tara) was formed of vertical poles, bearing the thatch rafter name of ka'o because they served a similar function. These poles were lashed at their upper ends to the inner side of the end principal rafters (oka) and at the lower ends to the outer side of the end plates (kape'u tara). These poles had a downward and outward slant, but it was not sufficient to give good clearance as eaves. End eaves were provided by short eave rods termed kautoki (fig. 12, 8).
Figure 12.—Gable end. a, inside view: 1, ridge post; 2, main ridgepole; 3, wall posts; 4, wall plate; 5, end plate; 6, end principal rafters; 7, vertical thatch rafters (ka'o); 8, eave rods placed above end plate (5) and kept in position by horizontal pole (9) termed rakau tami (covering pole) placed above them and lashed at ends to principal rafters. b, side view showing angle of eave rod (8) between end plate (5) and covering pole (9). Eave sticks are lashed to end plate and covering pole to maintain its position.
Thatching of Roof
Sheets for thatching the roof are made of coconut or pandanus leaves.
The coconut leaves (nikau) are split and plaited in check for a short distance and the leaflet ends left free. They are used in pairs and the same technique as that of Aitutaki (70, p. 11) is employed in the whole group. Such sheets are used on cooking sheds and shelters in the cultivations.
Pandanus sheets (rau, leaf) are made from dry leaves opened out by rubbing (oro te rau) them around a vertical stake. As each leaf is rubbed open, it is dropped to the ground, the tip end crossed over the butt end, and the right big toe placed on the crossing to keep the girdle (tatua) in position. The next leaf is rubbed, slipped down above its fellow, and kept in position in the same page 37way. When the pile rises high enough to interfere with the rubbing, the crossed part is tied (tapeka) with a strip of hibiscus bark (kiri 'au), lifted over the stake, and the bundle (tupe) laid aside. When the sheets are made, the bundles are untied (tatara) and the leaves straightened ('akatika) by flicking them from the butt end and drawing them across the knee to take out the kink. A midrib for the upper edge is formed of split strips of pandanus aerial rootlets (kai 'ara), 2.5 to 4 feet long. The butt ends of the leaves are doubled over the sticks and pinned with dry coconut leaflets (kikau) which pass through holes made with a wooden needle (au tui) (fig. 13, b). The full technique used in Aitutaki (70, pp. 11-18) is followed throughout the group.
The top edge of the coconut-leaf sheet is formed by the leaf midrib which is lashed to the thatch rafters. As the check plaiting below the midrib is fairly open, the sennit braid is easily pushed through. In pandanus sheets, the top edge is formed by the butt ends of the leaves where they are doubled over the contained strip of pandanus aerial rootlet. As the leaves overlap, there are no open spaces below the stick strip. In Rarotonga and Mangaia, the braid is pushed through the leaf with the fingers, but in the other islands a hooked implement is pushed through the leaf and hooks the braid back through the opening. The process of thatching is termed ato, and the thatching hook, au ato (fig. 13, a).
The thatch sheets are tied to the thatch rafters in ascending horizontal layers by teams of three men, a carrier outside who places the sheet in approximate position and two thatchers inside who do the tying with continuous lengths of sennit braid to thatch rafters near the ends of the sheets. When thatch rafters are fairly close together, the intermediate rafters give support to the roof sheets but not all are used for tying. The thatcher ties his sennit to the lower end of the selected thatch rafter and after the carrier has laid the sheet on the outside, he spaces the top edge a few inches above the level of the thatch purlin. He passes the braid over the top edge on the right of the rafter and pushes it from the outside through the sheet below the midrib on the left side page 38of the rafter. He pulls the braid taut and makes an overhand knot by passing the free end from below upward under the loop formed by the first part. The crossing of the knot is pulled to the right side. Succeeding sheets are added and the top edges spaced evenly, usually to two finger breadths. The continuous braid is carried upward around the top edges with the same technique of overhand knots. As the thatching ascends, the outside carrier lifts the sheets into position with a pointed pole and the thatcher works his way upward on an inside scaffolding. In my work on Aitutaki (70, figs. 25, 27), I erroneously showed the knot crossings on the midline of the thatch rafter, but the crossings are pulled to the right so that they are concealed from the front by the roundness of the rafter. This is done for aesthetic effect so that only horizontal turns of braid show on the front of the rafter.
The term 'ato is applied to the lashing of the roof sheets to the thatch rafters. In working up the thatch rafters, when their crossings with the purlins are encountered, the lashing braid is passed around thatch rafter and purlin; these special turns are termed takaki. The lashing of the wooden parts of the structure to each other are termed 'a'au (Maori, hahau).
Where workers are few, the thatch is applied in one ascending set of sheets until the ridgepole is reached. The next set is then applied, care being taken to make a slight overlap with the previous set and to keep the line of top edges level. In community efforts, the whole length of the roof is thatched simultaneously. A head thatcher sees that the lines of top edges are kept straight. If some of the sheets are askew, he issues the command, "paoro te 'oe" (straighten the line). As the thatchers finish a knot, they call to the carriers, "omai te rau" (bring a sheet), and so by successive complete rows, the thatching ascends to the ridgepole. The straight lines of the top edges of the inside when evenly spaced throughout add beauty to a house and are a matter of pride to both the thatchers and owners. The closer the rows, the thicker is the thatch, and the longer the life of the roof. On the outside, the free ends of the leaf sheets overlap and effectively shed rain. The eave purlin prevents the leaves of the lowest sheet from sagging below the ends of the thatch rafters. In Mangaia, the lowest sheets are termed rau pareu (leaf skirt) and they have an extra row of leaflet pins to prevent this sheet from opening out in windy weather.
The roof sheets reach as close to the main ridgepole as possible, but there is always a space left along the ridge which has to be covered by a special ridge sheet. The cover now used is plaited from a median full coconut leaf and two split leaves with the midrib to the outside. The technique has been described for Aitutaki (70, pp. 25-29) where it is termed tapatu. In Mangaia, it is kai'a, but the general term is tapoki (cover). The coconut-leaf form of cover is said to have been borrowed from Samoa in fairly recent times, and this is probably page 39correct for the Samoan technique is identical (73, pp. 175-176). In Samoa, however, the sheet itself is termed fa'atafiti, and the general term for roof cover is taualunga. The Samoan technique has been borrowed in post-European times, but not the Samoan nomenclature.
The top of the ridge is covered with a grass termed mata to form a filling beneath the ridge sheet. The coconut-leaf ridge sheet is then placed in position and pinned with stakes that pass through the ridge sheet above the lower midrib edges and between the upper and lower ridgepoles (fig. 14, a).
Figure 14.—Technique of ridge sheets. a, coconut-leaflet sheet with two ridgepoles: 1, main ridgepole; 2, principal rafters; 3, second ridgepole; 4, purlins; 5, thatch rafters; 6, middle whole midrib of coconut-leaf sheet; 7, 7, lower split midribs of sheet; 8, wooden pin. Old Mangaian method with pandanus sheets and three ridgepoles (b, c): b, 1, main ridgepole; 2, principal rafters; 3, second ridgepole; 4, purlins; 5, thatch rafters; 6, third ridgepole; 7, six pandanus sheets; 8, braid passing through sheets and around third ridgepole; c, 7, three lower sheets left in position and three upper sheets turned over to other side; 8, braid acting as hinge; 9, pandanus sheet doubled over ridge with rod end on left; 10, pandanus sheet doubled over ridge with rod end on right; 11, long curved pin (ko) passed through rau pare sheets (9, 10) above rod in each and through male and female sheets (7, 7) and between second and third ridgepoles. The stick pins (11) are usually curved upward and later the pins are twisted so that ends point downward to give better security to covers and to lessen drip of rain through holes.
In Mangaia, three ridgepoles are used. The main ridgepole (ta'u'u ngao, large ridgepole) rests on the tops of the ridge posts. The second or middle ridgepole (ta'u'u iti, small ridgepole) rests on the crotch formed by the principal rafters, and the third or uppermost ridgepole (takiri ka'o, thatch rafter divider) rests on the crotch of the crossed thatch rafters (fig. 14, b, c). The coconut-leaf ridge sheet (kai'a) was fixed by wooden pins passing between the second and third ridgepoles.
Though the Mangaians use the introduced coconut-leaf ridge sheet, they describe the old form composed of six sheets of pandanus leaves made like the roof sheets. The six sheets with their upper edges together were placed on one side of the third ridgepole and tied to it at intervals by sennit braid passing through the six sheets below the stiffening rod and around the third ridgepole (fig. 14, b). At this stage, the sheets are termed rau 'itikitiki (sheets tied together). The three lower sheets are termed female sheets (rau va'ine), and the three upper, male sheets (rau tane). After the braids are tied, the three male sheets are turned over to the other side of the roof, the braid ties serving page 40as hinges. Two other single sheets (rau pare, leaf headdress) are doubled over the ridge and the whole pinned with long, slender sticks termed ko (fig. 14, c).
When the ridge is covered from end to end, a strip of hibiscus bark is tied to the end of one of the end cross pins and runs diagonally down from the side over the ridge and between the pin ends to keep down the ridge sheets. Bundles of a creeper (moa) are then laid over the ridge and kept down by a length of pirita vine which crisscrosses between the pin ends.
The gable ends (tara, po'o tara) are thatched upward from the eaves formed by the eave rods (kautoki) which project from the end plates (fig. 12, 8), and when this is covered the sheets are carried upward by lashing them to the vertical rafters (fig. 12, 7). The sheets have to be adjusted to the narrowing width of the gable end, and technical difficulties at the apex lead usually to the leaving of a hole under the main ridgepole for ventilation. The projecting eaves prevent the drip from the thatched gable ends from entering the end walls of the house. In a similar way, the prolongation of the roof on the sides beyond the side walls forms eaves which afford similar protection from the drip during rainy weather.
Cutting of eaves
The house is not completed until the straggly ends of the leaves of the lowest thatch sheets are cut. In Hawaii, Mangareva, and Samoa, the cutting of the eaves formed a special ceremony that symbolized the completion of the house. I could get no information about such a ceremony in the Cook Islands, but Gill (28, pp. 273-274) records an interesting myth from Mangaia that has some significance.
The first house in Mangaia was built by Rauvaru of Tamarua, who slept in it as soon as it was finished, the long thatch ends hanging loosely down. A heavy shower of rain fell causing the thatch to lie smoothly.
Now Rangi greatly admired this new invention of house building; but thought he could improve on what Rauvaru had accomplished. He therefore descended to the shades (Avaiki), to pay a visit to his grandfather Rongo, who presented him with a wonderful axe, the handle and all being of stone in one piece, and withal very sharp. During the rain Rangi came up unobserved from the shades, and trimmed the thatch of Rauvaru's house all round. Great was the astonishment of the owner in the morning to see what an improvement had been effected by an unseen friend during the peltering storm.
However, in spite of such an acknowledgment of improvement, the Atiuans do not cut the eaves of their houses (pl. 3, A).
House walls, termed pa (in Rarotonga, koro), are formed of upright stakes with the lower ends imbedded in the ground and the upper ends reaching the page 41wall and end plates. The Mangaians use cane (kaka'o) or ironwood stakes (toa), and the term pa is qualified by the material, as pa kaka'o and pa toa. The other islands also used wild hibiscus rods ('au) which, like the ironwood, are peeled. Sometimes aerial roots of the pandanus are used.
The stakes are placed close together with narrow spaces between through which cool air circulates. One or more horizontal rods are placed on the inside of the stakes and attached to them by a continuous series of half-hitches with a strip of hibiscus bark. This technique is used in the wall termed pati'a in Aitutaki (70, p. 31). In Mangaia, a three-ply twine is used between the stakes and horizontal rod.
As protection against draughts, plaited coconut-leaf sheets ('apuka) are tied against the outer side of the wall. They consist of two roof sheets plaited together by the free leaflet ends in a three-ply braid (70, p. 32, fig. 37).
The doorway (ngutupa, ngu'are) is on the side between two wall posts. The door itself is a solid slab, usually of puka, and slides between the wall posts and two inner supporting posts. The threshold, termed turuki in Rarotonga and tirango in Mangaia, consists of a solid block of timber at the foot of the two wall posts. According to Gill (32, p. 336), it was tastefully carved in Mangaia. The door is closed and fastened from within. Anyone wishing to enter at night must call "va'i te pa" (open the wall). The Aitutakians hold that they had no sliding doors but that the door opening was sometimes covered with plaited coconut leaf termed 'apuka.
A cook house ('are umu) was a necessary adjunct to the dwelling house for, though cooking was usually done in the open, a roof over the oven was a necessity in wet weather. These houses were small with a framework similar to that of the dwelling house and with a thatch of coconut-leaf sheets. The sides were without walls.
Houses which were used as refuge from strong winds and hurricanes were remembered by the old people. As there were no eaves for the wind to get under, there was no danger of the roof being blown off. Because of the important part played by the principal rafters (oka), these houses were termed 'are oka in Mangaia.
Wall posts and plates were dispensed with. Ridge posts were erected and the ridgepole placed in position. The principal rafters were laid against the page 42ridgepole and the lower ends imbedded in the ground. The rest of the framework of the roof was the same as that of the dwelling house, and the thatch was carried from the ground to the ridge (fig. 15). The door was at one end.
Houses were once built on raised platforms in Mangaia and were termed 'are 'okiri. Posts (turuturu) about eight feet high were erected and plates fixed to their upper ends. Cross beams were laid across the plates to form a platform (ta'ua). Wall posts for the house were erected on the platform, some distance in from the edges; but exactly how the lower ends were fixed was not explained to me. It is probable that these wall posts extended to the ground in which the lower ends were imbedded. The house framework and thatch were made in the pattern used for dwelling houses, but the side and end eaves were prolonged to form a covered veranda. Ironwood or tamanu trunks, cut in notches to form steps, led to the outer edge of the platform or to an opening in the veranda floor. A low balustrade (paruru) was erected on the four edges of the platform to prevent children from falling off, and when a ladder opening was made, it was covered with a trap door.
An 'okiri house made for a favorite daughter enabled her to sit on a raised platform and get a good view. It also protected her from nocturnal lovers who were not approved. The parents shared the pleasure of sitting on the balcony, which was protection from the damp ground.
Canoe houses ('arau) are still built, though most fishermen now merely cover their canoes with coconut leaves or sheets of corrugated iron. I saw a good type of canoe house at the Tarapaku landing in Atiu in 1929. Median ridgepoles were lacking in order to accommodate the canoe with its outrigger. There was no need for side walls to raise the roof. Naturally curved poles, selected as principal rafters, were imbedded in the ground in opposing pairs and their upper ends bent over to cross in the midline; the main ridgepole was page 43placed in the fork so formed. Purlins, thatch rafters, and a second ridgepole were added, and coconut-leaf sheets were used for thatch. The back end was thatched from the ground up, and the front thatched at the upper end with projecting eaves over the entrance. (See figure 16.)
Figure 16.—Frame of canoe house. a, back, from inside: 1, 1, principal rafters, set in ground; 2, rafter crossing; 3, main ridgepole, lashed to two rafters and binding framework together; 4, 4, two pairs of purlins; 5, 5, paired thatch rafters, lashed to purlins and crossed above main ridgepole; 6, second ridgepole; 7, end purlins lashed to principal rafters; 8, vertical rods, attached to rafters above and to end purlins below to strengthen end frame for attachment of coconut-leaf sheets. b, front from outside: 9, single front purlin, attached to rafters above ends of upper pair of side purlins (4, 4), giving clearance for opening below; 10, three vertical rods with upper parts lashed to rafters and lower forked end resting on front purlin (9) while length of branch projects forward and downward; 11, horizontal bar functioning as eaves rod, attached to lower ends of branches supporting the leaves of the lowest thatch sheets, c, side view of a vertical forked rod.
The house seen was 16 feet long and 9 feet wide. A pair of principal rafters was placed midway between the two pairs of end rafters. One thatch rafter was placed to the outer side of each of the end rafters, and six were placed in each space between principal rafters. The thatch was formed of 21 tiers of thatch sheets, five inches apart, and reached from the ground to the ridgepole. The ridge was covered with ridge sheets of plaited coconut leaf pinned on by means of sticks passing transversely between the two ridgepoles (pl. 3, B).
Large houses termed 'are karioi were sometimes built by chiefs for their favorite daughters. Here the young people of both sexes gathered at night to sing and dance, and here visitors were entertained. A famous karioi house named Te Poniu-a-'au was built 14 generations ago in the old village of Vaitupa in Aitutaki (70, p. 37). The rectangular floor as judged from stones marking the sides and ends was 72 feet long by 34 feet wide. Some of the karioi houses in Rarotonga were said to have been 100 feet long. The architecture of such houses was similar to that of dwelling houses but the long ridgepole was supported by a number of ridge posts along the middle line of the house.
In Mangaia (76, p. 173), miniature houses about six feet long, well thatched with pandanus, and with a small doorway screened with white bark cloth, were built on the marae when peace was declared after war. These were termed 'are ei 'au (house for peace). During war, people left their dwelling houses which became dilapidated, and not until after the god houses were built could the people repair and rethatch their own dwellings. No images were kept in the god houses, but the gods were believed to take up their residence in them. There was a national god house termed Te Kaihara built between two important maraes in the Keia district in which symbols of all tribal gods as well as the national god, Rongo, were stored. The national god house had a special caretaker.
Missionary accounts of burning houses on maraes of Rarotonga and Aitu-taki, after Christianity was accepted, indicate that houses to accommodate the material forms of gods were built in the various islands of the group.
Other houses were named according to their uses. Special houses to store food, such as those of New Zealand, were not needed. Taro grows all year and a two or three days' supply is taken directly from the cultivations. The sweet potato has three crops a year and does not keep long in a tropical climate. Yams do not seem to have been cultivated in sufficient quantity to necessitate the special storing of the western Pacific. Breadfruit crops are stored in pits, the breadfruit pit being the nearest approach to the New Zealand storehouse.
According to legends, houses were sometimes set aside for storing specific articles, such as slit gongs (tokere and ka'ara), drums (pa'u), and other goods (taonga). These were termed respectively 'are tokere, 'are ka'ara, 'are pa'u, and 'are taonga. These stories were probably embellished with such names to suggest wealth.
Some houses were set aside for the teaching of ancient lore (vananga or korero) and were named 'are vananga. The ancestor, Uke, after landing in Mauke, is said to have built an 'are moe (sleeping house, dwelling) named Kapitirangi-o-Tangaroa and an 'are korero named Utaki. Such houses were probably well made and decorated with carving and sennit lashing.
Family meeting houses termed 'are kopu tangata are now built of lime, and informants said that they are modern in principle. Meetings to discuss matters of tribal importance were held on secular maraes, and entertainments were held in the open by day and in the 'are karioi at night.
Rough shelters in the forest were sometimes thatched with the long leaves of the birds' nest fern (kota'a).
One of its most striking peculiarities was the presence of many indelicate heathen figures carved on the centre posts. This was accounted for from the circumstance, that, when built, a considerable part of the people were heathens; and, as a portion of the work was allotted to each district, unaccompanied by specific directions as to the precise manner of its performance, the builders thought that the figures with which they decorated the maraes would be equally ornamental in the main pillars of a Christian sanctuary. The building was 250 feet in length, and 40 feet wide.
I think it far more likely that the figures were taken from similar house post patterns than from marae figures. The indelicacy complained of was merely the Polynesian technique of including the sex organs on figures carved in human form. So-called caryatid figures on middle ridge posts were used in New Zealand and the Marquesas, and their occurrence in the intervening island of Rarotonga shows that it was an old cultural element. It is regrettable that some of these carved ridge posts did not survive.
Ornamental Sennit Lashing
In the structural 'a'au lashings of purlins to principal rafters, certain forms were used, but these have been lost through the use of trade nails. In Samoa where nails are not used, various patterns are still in use and form part of the inner decorations of the house.
In addition to structural lashings, the builders worked purely ornamental designs in sennit on parts of the woodwork. I was informed that the rafters of the Residency in Rarotonga were decorated years ago by Mangaian craftsmen, but have since been concealed by the addition of a board ceiling to make the residence conform to European standards of comfort. The Mangaians were considered the best sennit workers in the group, and fortunately some of the designs worked by old time experts are still to be seen on the rafters of the church at Oneroa. My informant, Aiteina, remembered their names and was able to demonstrate the technique. The most complicated design, however, was beyond him, and I climbed onto a rafter to work out the sequence of turns.
The three designs recorded in the church consisted of a continuous series of lozenges, two open and a third completely filled in. The sennit used was flat (rapa); it was made by flattening out the fiber of the plies and maintaining the flat condition as the outer ply was bent into the middle position instead of being twisted as in ordinary braid. This is expressed as follows: "E rapa te raranga o te ka'a" (Flat is the plaiting of the sennit).
The lozenges were formed by a number of courses in which the braid was wound spirally around the wood. A course was termed ka'a (sennit). The page 46commencement course (ka'a mua) was counted as the first sennit (ka'a ta'i); the second (te rua o te ka'a) and the succeeding courses were numbered similarly. A course is the distance traveled in one direction, the return being counted as another course.
Figure 17.—Sennit rafter designs (a-e, te puta o Te 'I'iri design): a, first course (ka'a ta'i) showing rafter (1) with sennit (2) tied with running noose (3) and making ascending spiral turns which are kept parallel. b, second course (te rua o te ka'a) in which sennit descends to starting place, turns crossing in midline in front (4) and at back (5). c, third course (te toru o te ka'a) in which spiral turns ascend in middle of space between ascending turns of first course. d, fourth course (te 'a o te ka'a) in which descending turn crosses third course in middle of front and back. This completes the design in single braid. e, puna toru (triple) form of te puta o Te 'I'iri design which carries on from single design in d, represented by middle braid (1) in all turns; technique a to d repeated, the second braid (2) kept below the first (1) throughout. On completion the form is a puna rua (double) but the triple form is continued by repeating a to d with the third braid (3) kept above the first braid (1) throughout. f, te rua o te Ikatuna in puna rua form: technique a to d is similar but spacing wider; second braid (2) kept below first (1).
The lozenges in the first two designs are open, hence are termed puta (hole). These lozenges may be defined by a single braid, but if defined by two (rua), the completed technique is termed puna rua. If defined by three (toru), the technique is puna toru.
The designs and techniques are as follows:
1. Te puta o Te 'I'iri (the hole of Te I'iri): lozenges narrow; the design used on rafters and tie beams (fig. 17, a-e). 2. Te puta o Te Ikatuna (the hole of Te Ikatuna): lozenges wider than in the previous design and less braid used; used on purlins (fig. 17, f). 3. Inaere: this complicated appearing design is simple if one follows the sequence of courses accurately. The principle consists in defining the first set of open lozenges with one braid as in figure 17, d. The lozenges are then filled in by making a second sequence below the first forming a puna rua. A third sequence forms a puna toru again below the previous one. If it takes six (ono) sequences, to fill in the lozenges, the completed design is an inaere, but the resultant technique is a puna ono (fig. 18).
The puta o Te 'I'iri design is seen in the lashing of a pearl-shell neck ornament (p. 119). The inaere design is shown on the shaft of a slab god (p. 375), and an adz lashing (p. 171).
For introduced elements in house structure, see pp. 423, 424.
Figure 18.—Inaere sennit design: a, technique establishes lozenges as in figure 17, d, the braid shown as 1; a puna rua follows as shown by 2; third braid (3) followed below by carrying out complete sequence of turns taken in 1 and 2; a fourth (4) and fifth (5) sequence follow below and so fill in lozenges, margins of lozenges formed by last sequence (5) being crossed by those descending from left (5′). b, in a wider rafter, the first sequence (1) establishes lozenges which are too large to fill in artistically, so a second sequence (2) shown by dotted lines is established to bisect spaces between spiral turns of first sequence, thus dividing each of the large lozenges into four smaller ones; the two sequences establish the lozenges to be filled in. c, smaller lozenges set up in b by two sequences are filled in technique used in a; in forming design, braid at each end takes a half-turn transversely around rafter to get into correct position to commence reverse course. Lozenges are usually longer horizontally than vertically. Those of design in Oneroa church are 1.4 inches wide and 0.8 inch deep.
A platform ('ata) for weapons and other objects was made by stretching longitudinal beams on either side of the ridge posts and resting their ends on the end plates.
The floor was usually covered with grass (motie) or a creeper (moa) upon which sleeping mats were laid. The Mangaians formerly used bark cloth instead of plaited sleeping mats. Sometimes, as in Aitutaki, the floor was first covered with white coral gravel.
Partitions of large sheets of tapa (pa tikoru) were used in Mangaia to close off a portion of a priest's home to house a material symbol of the tribal god.
Wooden seats were made in all the Cook Islands with the exception of Mangaia and were used by chiefs as a mark of social superiority. Small seats (no'oanga; no'o, to sit), consisting of a curved seat with four curved legs with feet, were made in Atiu until recent times (70, p. 43). They are cut out of one piece of timber, preferably tamanu. The legs are heart-shaped in section with the sharp edge directed in each pair toward the middle transverse line. The feet are flat expansions that follow the heart shape of the leg section. The line of the leg from the seat to the foot is concave toward the end of the seat and correspondingly convex toward the middle. Sometimes a piece of braid was doubled twice around an end pair of legs above the feet and the four strands so formed were fastened by wrapping the continuous braid around them. The seats could be hung up by this braid. The seat shown in figure 19, a is typical.
Figure 19.—Cook Islands seats. a, small Atiu type (Bishop Mus., C8882): seat (1), 19 inches long at sides and 18.75 inches in middle; width, 9.25 inches at ends, 8.75 inches in middle; edge 0.5 inch thick; height above ground, 4 inches in middle, and 6.12 and 6.62 inches at ends: leg (2) curved, heart shaped in section, with edge (3) toward middle transverse line; foot (4) expanded, heart shaped, with apex toward middle line. b, long Aitutaki type (Auckland Mus., 12994): seat (1), 7 feet, 9 inches long, width, 17.5 inches; carved edges; legs (2) straight circular with edge (3) toward middle; no feet, but slight flaring toward lower end. c, seat of Pa Ariki, Rarotonga: height about 18 inches; seat (1), length, 27 inches at sides and 1.37 inches less in middle line; width at ends, 21.62 and 21.25 inches, in middle 20.25 inches; pedestal (2), circumference in middle, 38 inches; base (3) rectangular with corners rounded off, 17 inches by 16.5 inches; stepped edge (4) of seat, 2 inches thick and lower edge of two planes notched (5).
The only seat left on Rarotonga (fig. 19, c) was a unique form made for Pa Ariki, but I was told that the long Aitutaki type was once made. The Pa Ariki seat has the curved short seat of the Atiu type, but it is supported by a solid round pedestal with an outward expansion at the foot (70, p. 46).
For distribution and comparison of wooden seats, see pp. 421-423.