Ethnology of Manihiki and Rakahanga
Plaiting With Coconut Leaves
Plaiting With Coconut Leaves
The coconut provides a great number of plaited articles which are necessities in everyday life. For houses the coconut leaf furnishes an alternative thatching sheet and supplies wall screens. Within the house, coconut leaf mats form part of the necessary furnishings. A coconut leaf mat is also used to sit on out of doors and during certain ceremonials. The leaf supplies containers in which food is cooked, covers to retain the heat of the oven during cooking, and platters on which cooked food is served. A variety of baskets is made to contain foods and stored clothing. Last of all, the coconut leaf furnishes a shade to protect the eyes during operations conducted during the heat of the day, especially fishing for bonito.
The leaf has received so much attention that the parts have been named for convenience:
nikau, full leaf
whani, main midrib
tua (back), upper shiny surface
aro (front), under surface
pihonga, under midrib surface
hikuhiku nikau, tip end of leaf
katuri, leaflet from tip end
rau papata longer
ruruku, bundle of leaflets
tuaniu, leaflet midrib
The naming of the two surfaces of the leaf has been reversed from that of Cook Islands. The skin of the midrib is used for rough lashings. The leaflets toward the butt end of the midrib become hard, brittle, and frayed, and most articles are therefore made from the leaflets toward the tip end of the leaf. Thus a woman requiring individual leaflets for a particular type of mat will say to an assistant, “Haehaengina mai na katuri.” (Tear off the leaflets from the tip end of the coconut leaf.)
Technical Terms And Methods
Below the attachment of the leaflet midrib to the leaf midrib the two sides of the leaflet are attached close together in a vertical line to the side of the leaf midrib. The leaflet is therefore folded together at its commencement but soon opens out into its full width.
To obtain a woven or plaited surface, two sets of elements have to be provided for interlacement. In plaiting, the two sets of elements are fixed at the same commencement edge; one set is turned diagonally toward the left and the other toward the right. Individual strips of material, or wefts, inclined toward the left are sinistral and those toward the right, dextral. The technique is as follows:
The plaiter sits on the ground with the commencement edge lying transversely toward her and works from left to right in a section of convenient depth. When she attains the depth of a working section on the left, she also defines the left margin of the section by successively turning in the sinistral wefts as they reach the left margin. By turning in the sinistral wefts at right angles to their previous course, she not only defines the left margin of the working section, but she turns the sinistrals back into the plaiting where they now incline toward the right and thus function as dextrals. From the method of beginning, the working edge of the section is on the right of the plaited portion and is inclined obliquely upward toward the left, being formed by the last sinistral weft crossed with a number of dextrals. A triangular section is built up on the left until the worker has a convenient number of dextrals engaged, usually six to eight. With each subsequent movement, a dextral and a sinistral are added on the right of the working edge. From its position, the new dextral is added to the lower end of the oblique working edge, and for convenience the worker drops the top dextral in the last movement so as to keep to the same number of working dextrals. The series of working dextrals is manipulated by the left hand into alternating sets, the arrangement of which depends upon the plaiting stroke used. In check plaiting, the left hand picks up every alternate dextral and leaves the others down. The raising of one set of alternate wefts forms a shed between the two sets in which the new sinistral is laid by the right hand. In the next movement the plaiter drops the top dextral altogether, as she will pick up a new dextral at the lower end of the working edge. Commencing with the upper end of the working edge, she successively drops the raised dextrals over the sinistral placed in the shed and also picks up successively the recumbent set of dextrals from beyond the right edge of the sinistral which lies upon them. In this way, the added new sinistral passes over one and under one crossing element throughout its course in the shed, and the plaiting stroke is thus a check. In covering the last sinistral, the two sets of working dextrals have been reversed in position and a shed provided for the next sinistral, which will continue the check technique. When the wefts pass under page 104 and over more than one crossing element, the stroke is termed a twill. A twilled-two is formed by raising the dextral wefts at the working edge in alternate pairs and leaving the alternate pairs down. When the new sinistral is laid in the shed, it thus passes over two and under two crossing elements. To continue the twill, the technique demands that in the next movement one element of each raised dextral pair be kept raised and a pair provided for it by picking up an adjacent recumbent weft. Two courses are thus open. If the lower member of each pair is retained, the recumbent weft below it must be picked up. This will result in the rows of twilled-twos being horizontal in direction. If the upper element of each raised pair is retained, the recumbent weft above it must be picked up, and the result will be that the twilled rows will run vertically. To form twilled-threes, twilled-fours, and higher combinations, the number indicated is held up and a similar number left recumbent. In each subsequent movement, one of each raised group is dropped and a recumbent picked up to replace it. If the recumbent weft is picked up from below, the twilled row will run horizontally, and if from above, it will run vertically.
After establishing the technical stroke and the depth of the working section, the craftswoman works along the commencing edge from left to right by successive movements in which she drops the top working dextral, arranges the next shed, picks up a new dextral from below, and places a new sinistral in the shed. She is concerned with arranging the sheds and the plaiting stroke pattern develops automatically. On reaching the right margin, she successively turns in the dextrals as they reach the margin, and by bending them in to function as sinistrals she defines the right marginal edge. The defining of the right and left marginal edges is necessary with each working section of a mat. With baskets, the margins are not turned but are left free and oblique for subsequent treatment. Successive working sections are added until the required depth of the article is reached. The far or finishing edge is then completed, ordinarily by a three-ply braid.
Plaiting vocabulary used by natives:
Puwhera (open), open leaflet
Piri (stuck together), closed leaflet
Kohiti, check plaiting
To, prefix before number to distinguish twill
Torua, toteru, twilled-two, twilled-three
Whakatutu (to make standing up) toteru, vertical twilled-three (without qualification toteru refers to horizontal twills)
Peperu, to turn side margins
Hiri, three-ply braid
Take, free braid tail or corner
Huru, additional separate leaflets added to plaiting
Potiki, to narrow plaiting by bringing two wefts together to function as one
Hatu, to commence plaiting two leaflet-bearing strips
Tutaki, to close in ends of basket
When individual separate wefts are used, as with lauhala, a special technique is needed for joining the two sets of individual elements along a commencement edge. In the coconut leaf, however, nature has provided an established commencement edge in the leaf midrib on which the leaflet wefts are growing at regular intervals. The fixation problem was thus solved by nature. In the local development of the craft of plaiting to satisfy various page 105 needs, the midrib, with rare exceptions, has been used as the fixed commencement edge, but the need for different types of plaited material has led to a diversity of treatment in utilizing the leaf midrib. The whole midrib may be retained and the leaflets of both sides used, or the midrib may be split and the leaflets of one side used. For better work, a thin strip sufficient to carry the leaflets may be carefully split off the main midrib and will thus form a neat commencement edge. Two or four of these midrib strips may be combined. The forms of commencement technique are as follows:
Figure 22. Whole midrib commencement. a, section of coconut leaf, butt end to left, natural upper shiny surface uppermost: in this position, leaflets of both sides naturally directed toward right; leaflets on far side (1–3) retain their natural direction as dextral wefts, and those on near side (1′–3′) will have to provide sinistral crossing wefts; leaflets shown with leaflet midribs (5) running down middle line; part near leaf midrib (4) narrow but opens out away from leaf midrib, b, in plaiting, leaflets kept closed so that leaflet midribs (5) are on right or side to which leaflets naturally directed; first near leaflet on left (1′) used as first sinistral, bent across leaf midrib (4) to pass under first dextral (1), and thus directed towards the left to function as sinistral; bent direct, without any half-turn, so leaflet midrib (5) of sinistral (1′) still remains on right edge of weft. c, next near leaflet (2′) makes direct bend across leaf midrib, passes under next dextral (2), and if a check stroke is maintained, passes above next dextral (1); third sinistral (3′) crosses over leaf midrib, passes under opposite dextral (3), over next dextral (2), and under next (1); in this manner, by direct bends, near leaflets cross over leaf midrib, under opposite dextral leaflets, and subsequent interlacing depends on stroke used.
1. Whole midrib commencement (fig. 22). A section of leaf for the required length of the screen is cut off. The section is laid transversely before the plaiter with the tip end toward the right and the shiny surface uppermost. In this position the leaflets on the far side of the midrib form natural dextral wefts. The opposing set of sinistral wefts is formed by turning the near set of leaflets over the midrib and bending them to the left to engage with the natural dextrals in the manner shown in figure 22. The leaflets are kept closed (piri).
2. Single-strip midrib commencement (fig. 23). The leaf section is cut to the required length and split down the middle. Only one side of the leaf is utilized, so the crossing wefts are provided by bending alternate leaflets in the opposite direction to their natural course. When only one article is required, the leaf strip with the leaflets directed naturally to the right is preferred as the leaflets form natural dextrals and plaiting can proceed from left to right in the orthodox manner. If the other strip with page 106 the leaflets directed toward the left is used, the plaiting must proceed from right to left. As the bending of alternate leaflets in the opposite direction increases the inter-weft spaces, the open leaflet is used to diminish the spaces.
3. Simple two-strip commencement (fig. 24). The problem of supplying the second set of crossing elements has so far been met by twisting leaflets from the opposite side of a whole midrib or alternate leaflets from the same side of a single strip. A simple advance in technique is to split the leaf midrib and utilize both sides. When the strips are laid with the midrib strips together and the shiny surface of the leaflets up, the strip from the left side of the leaf provides a set of dextrals naturally directed, and the strip from the other side a set of naturally directed sinistrals. This obviates bending leaflets in the opposite direction to their natural inclination. The commencement of a food platter in check with the open leaflet is shown in figure 24. In such commencements, it is customary for the sinistral-bearing strip to be placed above the other.
Figure 23. Single-strip midrib commencement. a, midrib strip (8) with leaflets directed naturally toward right, shiny surface up, is selected; leaving out first leaflet (1) on left, following leaflets dealt with in pairs, one on right being converted into sinistral by direct bend over its dextral pair on its left; thus, first sinistral is third leaflet (2′) from left, which is right member of first pair (2, 2′) and is bent to left over its dextral pair (2) on its left; purpose of leaving first leaflet (1) out of pairing is now obvious; as check stroke is used, first sinistral (2′) passes under it and is thus kept down in position, b, right hand members of subsequent pairs (2′–7) have been converted into sinistrals by passing over dextral members (2–7) on their left, and each additional sinistral as formed is interlaced with preceding dextrals in check stroke; in working edge on right one set of dextral alternates (2, 4, 6) has been raised, and other set (1, 3, 5, 7) has been left down; next sinistral (7′) has been bent to take its position in shed formed; as working edge of 6 dextrals is enough, top recumbent dextral (1) will be left out of next movement; top raised weft (2) dropped over sinistral (7′); recumbent weft (3) raised; 4, dropped: 5, raised; 6, dropped; 7, raised; movement is thus from above down in order of wefts; left hand will keep wefts 3, 5, and 7 raised; next pair (8, 8′) will then enter plaiting, one on right (8′) forming sinistral which will be placed in new shed; sinistrals (2′–7′) on left project beyond left marginal dextral (1). c, formation of left edge: lowest free sinistral (2′) bent in with half-turn over sinistral above it (3′) and functions as dextral; next sinistral (3′) also turned over sinistral above it (4′); similarly, next sinistral (4′) will be turned over one above (5′); thus left edge formed by series of half-turns which converts free sinistrals into functioning dextrals.
4. The twisted two-strip commencement (takawiri, to twist). (See fig. 25.) Two midrib strips from opposite sides are used, but before plaiting, each strip is prepared by twisting each leaflet forward under the strip attachment of the leaflet in front (tip end of leaf in direction in which leaflets are naturally inclined). The two strips so dealt with are placed together with the sinistral-bearing strip above as in the simple two-strip commencement. The leaflets cross naturally, and in the subsequent plaiting they are kept closed.
Figure 24. Simple two-strip commencement. a, midrib strip (9) from right side of leaf with leaflets naturally directed toward left placed above strip (10) from other side of leaf, with leaflets directed toward right; leaflets thus cross naturally to be interlaced with required stroke. b, left ends of midrib strips do not exactly coincide, upper strip a little to right in order that its first leaflet (1′) may pass under first leaftet (1) of under strip; leaflets of upper strip raised with right hand; left hand raises first leaflet (1) of lower strip, and first sinistral (1′) dropped under it; left hand drops first dextral (1), raises second dextral (2), and right hand drops next sinistral (2′); second dextral (2) dropped over sinistral (2′) and raises next dextral (3); process carried on to right in order thus begun; left hand picks up next dextral, right drops sinistral, left drops raised dextral over it and picks up next dextral; plaiting in check resembles technique of single split midrib commencement (fig. 23, b), and side edges formed by upward half-turns; thus on left, lowest sinistral (1′) turned in over sinistral (2′) above it; on right, lowest dextral (8) turned in below dextral (7) above to comply with check technique.
Figure 25. Twisted two-strip commencement, a, in dextral-bearing midrib strip (9), twisting commences at butt end so that leaflet 1 passes forward under strip attachment of leaflet 2 in front of it, and thus 2 under 3, 3 under 4, 4 under 5, and 5 will pass under 6. b, in sinistral-bearing strip, commencing from butt end on right, leaflets will successively pass under leaflets in front as shown numerically, c, sinistral-bearing strip (1) placed above dextral-bearing strip (2) and their leaflets cross naturally.
5. The simple two-pair commencement (fig. 26). The number of wefts is reinforced by the use of a pair of midrib strips with natural dextrals and another pair with natural sinistrals. No twist is used, and each pair is so placed that the leaflets of one strip alternate with those of the other. As a double quantity of wefts is thus provided, the edges of the leaflets may be trimmed and made narrower. In a fish platter, the open leaflet was used and both free edges of the leaflets split off with the thumb nail.
Figure 26. Simple two-pair commencement, a, two sinistral-bearing strips placed together so that leaflets of lower one (2) alternate and fill intervals between leaflets of upper strip (1). b, two dextral-bearing strips similarly placed, lower leaflets (4) alternate with those of upper strip (3). c, sinistral-bearing strips (1, 2) placed above dextral-bearing strips (3, 4); naturally crossed leaflets plaited in close check.
6. The twisted two-pair commencement used in Samoa (28, p. 185) and Aitutaki (27, p. 183) is not used in Rakahanga, but completes the series of commencement methods. In the twisted two-strip commencement, the twist is used with each single strip. In the twisted two-pair commencement, each pair is twisted by placing the two strips from the same side with their midrib strips together but the leaflets alternating. Commencing, the back leaflet of one strip is twisted forward under the two leaflets in front of it, one from each strip. The next leaflet from the other strip is then twisted forward under the two leaflets in front of it, one from each strip. The twisting goes on automatically by taking the nearest leaflet from each strip alternately and twisting it forward under the next two leaflets, one from each strip.
The Finishing Edge
In mats, sheets, and platters the plaiting ends when sufficient depth has been secured. The commencing edge has been defined by the midrib strip in the various forms of commencement. The side edges have been formed by half-turns or direct bends. The far edge now ends in the free dextrals and sinistrals which project beyond the last horizontal row of check plaiting. The problem of disposing of the weft ends was met by plaiting them into a three-ply braid:
The three-ply braid finish (figs. 27, 28). The plaiting is turned so that the incomplete far edge lies longitudinally to the craftswoman. In Rakahanga, the plaited article is so placed that this far edge is on the right of the plaited portion. In this position, the dextral wefts are directed obliquely toward the plaiter, and the sinistral wefts are directed away from her. It is convenient to allude to the dextrals as near wefts and the sinistrals as far wefts. The side of the braid toward the plaiting (left) will be termed the inner side, and that on the other side (right), the outer. Thus, if the free page 109 finishing edge were turned to the left, the terms inner and outer would apply equally well. The plies will also be termed inner and outer, according to the side from which they enter the braid. In plaiting a three-ply braid, the plaiting moves toward the plaiter, and there are two plies alternately on either side of the braid. To advance a step, the back ply crosses over the one in front of it to take up the middle position. The free weft ends are disposed of by adding them successively to a ply which has been brought into the middle position. The problem of the near and far wefts is settled by adding the near wefts to the inner plies and the far wefts to the outer plies.
Figure 27. Spaced three-ply braid finish of mats, sheets, and platters, a, plaiting placed with finishing edge longitudinal and free weft ends to right; dextral wefts (1–4) near and sinistral wefts (1′–4′) far; braiding commences at far end and three plies will be formed by first far weft (1′) and first two near wefts (1, 2). b, first far weft (1′) bent over crossing weft (1) to form first ply; second ply formed by second near weft (2) which is lifted over first ply (1′); third ply formed by turning in first near weft (1) over second ply (2); the three plies now established; two plies on inner side with weft (1′) as back ply. c, inner back ply (1′) brought over ply (1) in front of it to middle position; this shifts the two plies to outer side so back outer ply (2) crosses over to middle position, again changing pair position; back inner ply (1) crosses over to middle position; this, however, is second turn of an inner ply and technique demands near weft added to every second turn of an inner ply. d, next near weft (3) therefore added to inner ply (1) by lifting it up from outer side of last weft (2′) that crosses it and laying it on inner ply (1) in middle position, e, back outer ply (1′) brought over last double ply (1, 3) to middle position but as it is second turn of an outer ply, next far weft (2′) must be added to it; far weft (2′) under braid is pulled down to level of outer ply (1′) on outer side and will be turned over to join it in middle position, f, technique established; near wefts (3, 4) have been added to alternate turns of inner plies and far wefts (2′, 3′) to alternate turns of outer plies, g, established technique has been followed throughout; near wefts enter inner side of braid with every second or alternate turn of inner plies and leave spaces (6) between them, shaded alternate outer plies (7) show where far wefts have entered; on reaching near end, plies continued on in free tail (8) and knotted.
Two varieties of technique have been developed. In one, the wefts are added to every turn of the plies. In the other, the wefts are added to alternate turns. These variations are influenced by the closeness of the wefts in the plaited article. Thus in the oven cover meant to retain the steam in the cooking oven, the plaiting is close and the wefts are added to every turn of the plies. In most of the other articles, the wefts are added to alternate plies. It is convenient, therefore, to allude to the two variations as the close three-ply braid and the spaced three-ply braid. Sometimes, owing to variations in the width of the wefts, both techniques (whiri) may be used in the one braid finish. The more common spaced three-ply braid is shown in figure 27. The close three-ply braid finish is shown in figure 28.
Figure 28. Close three-ply braid finish, a, commencement technique and figuring exactly the same as in figure 27; when ply 1′ is turned in from inner side, near weft (3) added to it; outer ply (2) has been turned to middle position and far weft (2′) added to it; in next turn, back inner ply (1) will be turned into middle position but instead of waiting for another turn, next near weft (4) will be added to it; similarly, when next back outer ply (1′, 3) turned into middle position, next far weft (3′) will be added to it. b, near wefts (2–6) enter with successive inner plies; far wefts (2′–5′) enter with successive outer plies, there being no spacing.
Sheets, Screens And Mats
From the coconut leaf, thatch sheets, screens, oven covers, and two kinds of mats are made:
1. Thatch sheet. Thatch sheets for cooking houses and temporary houses out in the plantations are made of split half leaves. The leaves are cut off in 6-foot or 7-foot lengths. Each section is split down the midrib and each half leaf plaited separately with the split midrib commencement in check with the open leaflet. In the left half leaf alternate leaflets are bent to the left to provide the crossing sinistrals, and the plaiting proceeds normally from left to right. (See fig. 23.) In the right half leaf the natural direction of the leaflets is sinistral, so the alternate leaflets are bent to the right to provide crossing dextrals. The plaiting proceeds from right to left, the right hand manipulating a working set of sinistrals at the working edge and the left hand placing a dextral in the shed formed. The side margins are turned in with the upward half-turn. (See fig. 23, c.) After plaiting a few inches in depth with one working section, the ends of the leaflets are left free. The narrow band of plaiting insures that the leaflets are crossed to form a better thatch. The technique is the same as in Cook Islands, Tahiti, and Samoa.page 111
2. The sitting mat (pora) is made by continuing the thatch sheet technique to a greater depth and then finishing off the far edge with a spaced three-ply braid. (See fig. 27.) It resembles, moreover, the Aitutaki thatch sheet in the principle of joining two sheets together after commencing each separately. The split midrib commencement is used with the open leaflet in check, and the side margins are formed with an upward half-turn. The two separate sheets, after being plaited for a depth of about 1 foot, are placed one above the other. The wefts of the two sheets which coincide in position are then treated as double wefts and the plaiting in check is continued to reach the full depth, when the braid finish is used. The process of combining the two sheets by using double wefts is termed kohiti, a term also applied to check plaiting. (See p1. 2, A.)
Figure 29. Commencement of screen (pataro whani), a, full midrib (whani) (9) with far leaflets (1, 2) and near leaflets (1′, 2′); far leaflets form natural dextrals; first near leaflet (1′) on left crossed over midrib and under its opposite leaflet (1) to form first sinistral weft, b, second near leaflet (2′) passed over midrib and also under first dextral (1) as technique is to be twill; two extra free leaflets (1″, 2″) introduced as dextrals to fill wide space between two natural dextrals (1, 2); extra leaflet (3″) also added as extra sinistral; first sinistral (1′) bent in to function as dextral and commence left edge of screen, c, third near leaflet (3′) has been crossed over midrib to act as sinistral and second sinistral (2′) has been turned in to define further the left edge. d, another free sinistral (4″) added; extra sinistral (3″) turned in to continue definition of left edge, e, fourth near leaflet (4′) has been added as sinistral and sinistral (3′) turned in to define further the left edge, f, development of twilled technique and use of additional wefts.
3. Wall screen (pataro whani). (See fig. 29.) The term pataro is identical with that used in Tongareva and distinguishes coconut leaf sheets or mats used as screens for the sides of houses, doorways, and also for sitting mats. The leaf midrib (whani) is not split, and its retention in the unsplit form gives the qualifying term, whani, to the screen. The same mat was also used as a seat, and was then termed a pataro noho. The whole midrib commencement, whereby the naturally directed leaflets of one side form the dextrals, is used. The leaflets from the other side are crossed over the midrib to engage the natural dextrals as sinistrals. The leaflets are kept closed (piri), and as page 112 this method increases the spaces between the leaflets, extra leaflets torn off another section of leaf are introduced as both dextrals and sinistrals to close the spaces as the plaiting proceeds. A twilled-two stroke is used and a decorative effect is introduced by changing the direction of the rows of plaiting. Thus in the type mat in plate 2, B, the twilled-twos at the midrib commencement are in horizontal rows, which are changed to vertical rows and then to a horizontal row of twilled-four sinistrals, followed by a row of twilled-three dextrals and finally finished off in check. The change in the twill and in direction gives variety to the surface appearance of the mat and is introduced for the aesthetic effect. The side edge on the left is formed by upward half-turns and on the right by direct bends. The far edge is finished off with the spaced three-ply braid technique. (See fig. 27.)
4. The oven cover (pataro umu) carries the screen name, pataro, qualified by the word umu (oven) to denote its use as a cover placed over the food in the oven to keep in the heat during cooking. (See p1. 2, C.) The technique departs from that of the screen pataro and is exactly similar to that of the Tongarevan oven cover (toto umu). The cover is made of two leaflet-bearing strips in the twisted two-strip commencement (fig. 25). The closed leaflets are used with both check and twill, both side edges are formed by direct bends, and the far edge is finished off with the close three-ply braid technique. (See fig. 28.) In addition to being used to cover (tapoki or puroku) food while it is cooking, the closely plaited mat is used for other purposes. The puraka may be grated on it (oro te puraka) and also the mature coconut (waru te hakari), so that the mat receives the grated material. It is also used as a mat on which grated coconut is exposed to the sun (tauraki ki te ra) to make the oil run, and for drying fish and Tridacna (tauraki te ika, te pahua).
Figure 30. Keel commencement of tapakau mat, a, three strips of coconut or lauhala commence three-ply braid; when short length established, wefts added on either side after back ply is twisted over into middle position; thus when ply (1) twisted over into position from right, weft (4) from bundle on right is added to it, its midrib strip (4′) being placed proximally to lie on ply; back ply (2) then twisted over it from left, and weft (5) from left bundle added to it with its midrib strip lying on ply; all closed wefts added with their own midrib edges distal to worker, b, wefts added alternately on either side; thus weft 13 has been added from left to ply 1, weft 14 from right to ply 2, and ply 3 twisted into middle position to await addition of weft from left; in close addition of wefts, braid does not show on upper surface; fibrous midrib strips of wefts continue in braid for their entire length, and as earlier ones give out later additions continue plies, c, required length attained; braid plies continued on as free tail (6), finished off with overhand knot (7); in type mat, length of weft-bearing part of braid is 45 inches and both commencing and finishing free tails, 2.5 inches, d, under surface, braid stands out as contrasted with upper surface c.
5. The large sitting mat (tapakau) shows a marked departure from the technique ordinarily associated with coconut leaf material. (See fig. 30.) It is evident that whereas the midrib strips offer certain advantages in providing a natural commencement edge, their presence also imposes restrictions. The disadvantages of the wide spacing between the wefts has been met in making some articles by using the two-strip twisted commencement further reinforced by the addition of extra individual wefts to fill up interweft spaces. There are, however, further limitations as to the length of the midrib and the alternation in length and width of leaflets as they proceed toward the tip and the butt. Furthermore, the depth of the plaiting is limited to the length of the leaflets on one side of the midrib. To meet these disadvantages and provide a larger and neater mat, an artificial midrib is made, of any length required and with selected leaflets on either side set closely together, a distinct advance in technique. The new principle involved consists of plaiting a three-ply braid and adding selected leaflets on either side to each ply of the braid as it twists into the middle position. The appropriate katuri leaflets from toward the tip ends of the leaves are pulled off individually so that the butt ends of the leaflets carry short strips of the leaf midrib. In the closed leaflet wall screens and oven covers, the leaflet wefts average 0.8 inch in width, but in the tapakau mat the edges of the leaflets are split off with the thumb nail to form closed leaflet wefts from 0.4 inch to 0.5 inch wide. The leaflets from the opposite sides of the leaf are kept distinct, those from the right side being placed in a bundle (ruruku) on the left side of the craftswoman and those from the left side of the leaf on her right. When plaiting the braid commencement, the worker automatically adds the leaflets on her right to the right side of the braid and those on her left to the corresponding left side of the braid. The women are methodical in their work and, by attention to minor details beforehand, they not only quicken the work but avoid confusion and bad craftsmanship. The commencement is here termed, from its appearance, the keel commencement (fig. 30), to distinguish it from other braid commencements. Plaiting is commenced by laying the braided keel transversely in front of the plaiter. She sits on the near set of wefts and plaits the far wefts from left to right in twill. (See fig. 31.)
Figure 31. Twill plaiting of tapakau sitting mat. a, with finishing braid tail (10) to left and thick braid beneath, plaiter sits on near wefts (11) and plaits wefts on far side of braid, commencing on left; all wefts directed toward right from method of fixing them in keel braid; first weft (1) in position as natural dextral and next weft (2) turned under it toward left as sinistral; next two wefts in position as dextrals and next one (3) twisted under them to left to form sinistral and comply with twilled-two stroke used at commencement; sinistral (3) passes over first dextral (1) and comes to left edge; regular technique affected by necessity of turning left edge of mat; method of turning weft affected by nature of outer weft edge; thus midrib edge of closed leaflet weft being on right, open free edges are on left or outer side; in Rakahangan technique, such an outer edge is not considered suitable to direct bend as it page 114 would open out and fray edges; upward half-turn adopted; in making this turn, weft naturally crosses over next weft; thus sinistral 3 having crossed over dextral 1, weft (2) below it turned in over it with upward half-turn to define left edge; similarly, weft 3 turned over weft 4 above and so successively as sinistrals reach left edge; from weft 3, every alternate weft turned to left to form sinistral and passes under two dextrals to make horizontal row of dextral twilled-twos (5); sinistrals passed under two dextrals, lifted, and passed over two dextrals to form horizontal row of sinistral twilled-twos (6); exception to rule is sinistral 4, which, being near edge, has been left over three dextrals instead of two; such irregularities take place near edge, for not only must turned weft defining left edge be turned over sinistral above it, but it must pass under next sinistral to form better edge; above row of sinistral twilled-twos (6) dextrals emerge to form horizontal row of twilled-twos (7), succeeded by horizontal row of sinistral twilled-threes (8), then dextral twilled-threes (9). b, plaiting proceeds to right edge defined first by last dextral (1) turned in under dextral weft (2) above it; technique of turning in wefts on right edge again influenced by nature of outer weft edge formed here by leaflet midrib; wefts therefore turned in with direct bend without any half-turn, as leaflet midrib forms good outer edge, direct bends having been commenced by turning bent-in weft under crossing dextral above it; this course followed throughout; thus weft 2 passes under weft 3 above it and successively along right edge; stroke technique established on left carried out along full course of working section, but when plaiting reaches right edge, departures from regular stroke fit in with formation of right edge; continuation of horizontal rows of twill from left, commencing braid tail (10), and unplaited near wefts (11) shown; depth of plaiting from braid keel to last horizontal row of dextral twilled-threes (9), 4.5 inches.
From the last horizontal row of twilled-threes in figure 31, the stroke technique is changed to vertical rows of twilled-twos for a depth of 12 inches. The stroke then changes to 5 horizontal rows of twilled-twos followed by about 10 rows of check. The dextral wefts in the check portion are narrowed by folding them over slightly at one edge. The depth of plaiting to the last check row is 22.5 inches. The far edge of the plaiting is then finished off with the spaced three-ply braid as in the preceding mats. (See fig. 27.) The free tail end of the braid is knotted and pushed back through the plaiting below the braid edge with the knot to the under surface. This completes one half of the mat. The unplaited side is then turned so that the worker sits on the plaited part. The second half is plaited in exactly the same manner as the first. (See p1. 3, A.) The tapakau is the best mat I have seen in coconut leaflet material. The long leaflets of the Rakahangan palms render the depth possible. Though the plaiting depth is 22.5 inches, the diagonal course of a single leaflet weft is 32 inches and at least an extra 2 inches are included in the braid.
A group of plaited articles known geneically as raurau divides into two classes, cooking receptacles and serving platters. With the exception of one used for cooking fish, the cooking receptacles have been created by the need for containers in which to cook the grated puraka preparations. In Tongareva, where until recently the puraka was not present, the technique of the raurau cooking receptacles was not known. The raurau food platter upon which the cooked food is served to guests follows the technique of the cooking raurau, but the finishing edge is made neater by finishing it off with a three-ply braid. Three forms of cooking raurau and three forms of platters are made:page 115
1. The fish receptacle (raurau to ika) is the roughest form of raurau. (See p1. 3, C.) Two midrib strips from opposite sides of the leaf, each carrying 10 or 11 leaflets, are plaited together in check, the sinistral-bearing strip above the other. A leaflet at either end of the sinistral strip is left free for tying leaflets. The receptacle is about 12 to 13 inches wide. The side edges are turned in, and the plaiting proceeds until it is about 12 inches deep. The free ends of the dextrals are drawn together and tied in an overhand knot close to the plaiting, and the sinistrals are dealt with similarly. The fish are placed in the receptacle, which is hollow on the back surface of the leaflets, and the leaflet ends are simply tucked in around the fish. The plaiting is folded over the fish, the free tying leaflets are passed around parallel with the midrib strip, and the ends tied with a reef knot. The receptacle then serves as a cooking dish which is placed in the earth oven for cooking.
2. The large puraka receptacle (raurau papa) is also made of two opposite strips bearing 11 or 12 leaflets. (See p1. 3, B.) The sinistral-bearing strip is placed above the other, with the shiny surface of the leaflets upward. All the wefts are plaited in check with open leaflets. After the plaiting has reached a depth of about 5 inches, a leaflet is dropped out at either side edge for tying. The plaiting continues for a full depth of about 22 inches, the side edges being defined by turning in the wefts with a half-turn. The far finishing edge is fixed by tying the crossing wefts together with a reef knot in pairs, a sinistral and a dextral being included in each knot. For use, the raurau is turned over with the dull surface upward, as this surface is slightly hollow. The grated food (puraka oro) is laid on the midrib strip half of the sheet, the other end is folded over, and the two side leaflets that were left out of the plaiting are brought over to tie the receptacle together. The food in the receptacle is then placed in the earth oven for cooking.
3. The smaller cooking receptacle (raurau kapukapu) is made in a similar manner but with shorter midrib strips carrying about 7 leaflets. (See p1. 3, D.) The plaiting in check with open leaflets proceeds for a depth of 14 inches. The two leaflets which cross in the middle of the finishing edge are knotted together with a reef knot, which braces the plaiting edge together and prevents it from unraveling. The food cooked in the raurau kapukapu consists also of grated puraka when not so much quantity is required, and also of the preparation (pupu) of grated puraka mixed with coconut. The dull surface is again the hollow part, so the receptacle is turned with that surface uppermost. The food is placed on the midrib half and the other end doubled over. The free weft ends, which have been left long and brought around from either side, are passed around the sides above the projecting ends of the midrib strip, and tied at the back with a reef knot. The receptacle is neat and effective.
4. The ordinary platter is made of two opposite midrib strips, each carrying 8 leaflets. (See p1. 4, A, I.) With the shiny surface of the leaflets up, the sinistral-bearing strip is laid above the other. The stroke is a check with open leaflets, and the side edges are turned in with half-turns. The platter is about 12 inches wide at the midrib strip commencement. The plaiting continues for a depth of about 13 inches. The free ends of both sets of leaflets are then plaited in a single course three-ply braid, commencing on the left with the shiny surface upward. As in screens, the dextral wefts go straight into the braid from the plaiting edge, but the sinistrals pass under the braid and enter the braid in the outer plies. On reaching the right edge, the wefts are continued as a free braid tail for about 4 inches and tied in an overhand knot. The tail is then doubled in on the dull surface side, pushed through under a couple of wefts, and the knotted end is brought back again. The platter is hollow on the dull surface, which is turned uppermost in use.page 116
5. A platter for serving fish (raurau rava ika) is more elaborate in that two sinistral-bearing and two dextral-bearing strips are used to supply a double quantity of wefts. (See fig. 32; p1. 4, A, 2). Owing to the extra material, the edges of the leaflets are split off to form narrower and neater wefts. The two-pair simple commencement shown in figure 26 is used. The side edges are turned in with half-turns, and the check stroke with open leaflets is used. Each midrib strip carries 7 leaflets, thus making 14 wefts in each series. The platter is a little more than 12 inches wide at the strip commencement. The plaiting continues for a depth of 15 inches where the plaiting narrows down to 9 inches in width. The finishing edge is completed by a two-course three-ply braid, shown in figure 32.
Figure 32.—Fish platter, first course of two-course braid finish, a, left corner of finishing edge; sinistral weft (1′) has been bent at right angles over next sinistral (2′) to form first ply of three-ply braid, b, sinistral (2′) doubled over crossing ply (1′) to form second ply, and first dextral weft (1) lifted over second ply to form middle ply and so establish commencement of three-ply braid, c, back ply is outer ply (1′), crossed over middle ply (1) to take middle position, d, back ply is now inner ply (2′), crossed over middle ply (1′) and next dextral weft (2) added to it; technique now established; back ply comes alternately from outer and inner sides to take middle position by crossing over last ply placed in middle position; every time inner ply placed in middle position, next dextral weft automatically added to it. e, continuation of braidiing shows successive addition of dextrals (1–4) to inner plies; outer plies receive no additions as sinistrals and except for first (1′, 2′) are left out for second course; dextral wefts inclined in course of braiding; sinistrals directed in opposite direction; braiding continued to right end of finishing edge and thus uses up all dextral elements; plaiting then turned over and braid bent around in the opposite direction on reversed surface of plaiting; free sinistrals now run in same direction as plies of braid; braid thus simply continued in second course which uses up remaining sinistral wefts; when all sinistrals braided, free tail continued for short distance and fixed with overhand knot, excess of material being cut off; finishing edge thus consists of distinct braid on each surface.
6. A small, neat platter (raurau mereki: mereki, modern term for plate) was made of two opposite midrib strips each carrying 6 leaflets. (See p1. 4, A, 3). In the type specimen examined, the dextral strip was placed above the other. The check stroke was used with the open leaflets and the side edges were turned in with half-turns. The platter at the commencement edge is 8 inches wide. The plaiting is continued for a depth of 8 inches. The 6 sinistral wefts are then braided in three-ply from the middle line toward the left. After all the six wefts have been included in the braid, the ends are continued as a free braid tail for a length of about 11 inches. The 6 dextral wefts are similarly treated on the right. The two tails are then brought back along their respective sides to the midrib strip, where they are passed through from the dull, concave side of the platter to the inner side of the marginal wefts. The two ends are drawn taut along the outer side of the strip margin and tied together in the middle line with a reef knot. This type of platter is probably modern but illustrates a form of technique seen in the pite group of plaited articles.page 117
Figure 33. Pointed pite receptacle, a, sinistral-bearing strip (8) laid over dextral-bearing strip (8′) with shiny surface of leaflets up; ends do not coincide but project at either end so as to allow for diagonal interlacing of leaflets; left dextral (1′) lifted and left sinistral (1) dropped under it; check stroke continued until seven wefts from both strips interlaced in check to form triangular piece of plaiting with apex upward; projecting free leaflets have now to be doubled back and plaited again in check to form double layer of plaiting, b, plaiting is turned over; plaiting commences on left margin by doubling over wefts 1′, 3′, 5′, and 7′, which have passed under left marginal weft (7); alternate wefts (2′, 4′ and 6′) above marginal crossing weft (7), left down; doubling over of set of alternating wefts forms shed in which crossing weft (7) laid by doubling it back over right marginal weft (1′), thus forming point of pite at apex of plaiting; seven wefts on left have now been divided into two alternating sets which will continue check stroke; in next movement three projecting wefts (2′, 4′, 6′) will be doubled over weft 7 in shed and four recumbent wefts (1′, 3′, 5′, 7′) raised, thus forming shed into which next crossing weft (6) will be placed by doubling it back over its previous course, c, second layer of plaiting completed by manipulation of two alternating sets of wefts on left until all wefts which projected on right margin included; in figure, completed plaiting projects below base of midrib strip, but in actual plaiting, leaflets drawn close together and do not project so far; set of wefts (7′–1′) on right now plaited in three-ply braid; thus left weft (7′) twisted over next weft (6′); third weft (5′) passes over first (7′) and second (6′) twisted over it to middle position; three-plies established and other wefts successively included by being added to ply which comes in from left; when all included, braid passed through under first part of right marginal weft (1′) and continued on as free tail (9); wefts 1–7 on left dealt with similarly and free tail passed through under first part of left marginal weft (7); opening of pite thus defined by midrib strip on one side and three-ply braid on other, d, plaiting turned over and two braid tails (9) brought together in middle line where tied in reef knot (10); leaflet strips about 7 inches long; pite when opened out, about 5 inches in diameter across rim and 6 inches deep.
The two forms of pite consist of a pointed conical article and a four-cornered one:
1. The pointed pite (pite pahua) is used by women when gathering Tridacna (pahua) for food. (See fig. 33; p1. 4, A, 5.) The receptacle is hung with the open mouth upward on a stick in the sand. After shellfish have been collected, the shells are opened and the flesh put in the pite. This saves carrying the heavy shells back to the cooking houses.
2. The four-cornered pite (pite pupu) is used for cooking the preparation (pupu) of grated puraka and coconut. (See fig. 34; p1. 4, A, 4). The receptacle has four corners (e ha take). The technique of the corner is simple and is similar to that used in satchels in New Zealand. In any plaiting surface, if the normal lean of a weft is turned in the opposite direction and the crossing weft is similarly dealt with, a corner will result.
Figure 34. Four-cornered receptacle (pite pupu), technique of corners, a, simple two-strip commencement with dextral-bearing strip (7) placed over sinistral strip (8); each strip carries six leaflets kept spread open and interlaced in check, b, if lowest weft (1′) on left bent in, ordinary edge will result; to form corner next weft (2′) turned in at right angles and plaited in check with crossing sinistrals; lowest weft (1′) bent in parallel with 2′ to act as dextral and cross sinistrals in check; figure shown spread out on the flat, but in actual plaiting both turned-in wefts drawn taut to form definite corner where weft 2′ crosses weft 3′; weft 3′ and those above it (4′–6′) also forced to change direction and come down closer toward midrib strip; on right, similar plan pursued to form corresponding corner; second lowest dextral (5) turned in to function as sinistral and its crossing with dextral 4 forms point of second corner; lowest dextral (6) turned in and drawn taut to deepen corner; with all wefts crossing in check, second pair of corners may be formed in exactly same manner as first; thus lowest free weft on left is 3′ and corner key weft above it is 4′; similarly on right, lowest free weft is 4 and key weft above it is 3, c, on left, key weft (4′) turned in as dextral and forms corner with crossing weft 5′; weft (3′) below it follows suit and deepens third corner; both wefts (4′, 3′) cross sinistrals in check; on right, key weft (3) turned to act as sinistral and form fourth corner with crossing weft (2); weft 4 below it follows suit; with all wefts drawn taut, four corners distinctly defined and margin formed by far edge of plaiting curved around to more nearly approach midrib edge; four-cornered hollow receptacle formed; six free weft ends on either side plaited as free braid tails and brought around behind midrib edge in exactly same technique as in figure 33, c, d.
The term basket (kete) is here used to include deeper and more permanent receptacles than the raurau and pite articles just described, and it includes articles usually described as satchels. Four types are made from coconut leaflets and two from lauhala. Of the four coconut leaf types, a round basket and a satchel clothes basket are local. The third type (to-ngini) was introduced during the post-missionary period, and the rough braided basket was also probably introduced.
1. The round basket (kete). The round basket is the common receptacle for food and other objects, the common baskets of other areas made with open leaflets in check not having been adopted. (See figs. 35, 36; pl. 4, B, 2–3.) The basket is made of two midrib strips from opposite sides of the leaf. The two strips are dealt with by the twisted two-strip commencement (takaviri) and a twilled-two plait is used after the whatu technique and join (fig. 35) are established. The horizontal row of dextral checks which completed the whatu is followed by a horizontal row of sinistral twilled-twos, another row of dextral checks, and then alternating rows of sinistral and dextral twilled-twos of two each. This forms a plaited cylinder about 6 inches deep.
Figure 35. The whatu technique, round basket, twisted two-strip commencement: most twisted strips, about 50 inches long; sinistral-bearing strip (5) placed above dextral-bearing strip (6); whatu technique consists of joining strip together with check stroke; to establish this, right hand holds up number of sinistrals on left and left hand holds up some dextrals; second sinistral (2) dropped and first dextral (1′) dropped over it; right hand drops third sinistral (3) and left hand drops second dextral (2′) over it; from this commencement, each hand alternately drops next weft on right; horizontal row of dextral checks (4) produced; this continued to end of strip; two ends of double strip brought together and joined; if any interweft space too wide, extra single weft (huru) interpolated and its butt end rests between the two midrib strips; in preparing midrib strips, each weft twisted forward in front of huru and so successively fixed; end leaflet remains free, having no leaflet in front of it under which it may be twisted; similarly, first leaflet to be twisted forward has no leaflet passing under it; thus on sinistral strip, end leaflet (1) on left free; first twisted leaflet (11) on right has no leaflet passing under its loop between it and midrib strip (5); when the two ends brought together, free leaflet (1) passed up under loop of leaflet 11 in place indicated by arrow; in this way, twisting of strip completed by joining it into circle; in lower dextral strip (6), free leaflet (11′) on right, and free loop formed by first dextral (1′) on left; with ends together, free leaflet (11′) threaded up through loop of dextral 1′ in place indicated by arrow; this completes join and crossing leaflets plaited in check to complete whatu join.
The bottom of the basket is formed by decreasing the diameter with each circle of weft strokes. Thus from the last circle of twilled-twos with single wefts, the next circle of twilled-twos is formed by drawing two adjacent wefts together to form a double weft with both dextrals and sinistrals. This rounds the bottom and narrows (potiki) the circle of plaiting. After this round, the narrowing is repeated (ka potiki whakohou) by bringing two double wefts together to form compound wefts containing four leaflets in each weft. The four-element wefts are now plaited in check for three rounds. The three rounds of check plaiting form a raised cuff. The cuff is then flattened longitudinally, taking the join (tutaki) on the rim as the far end. From the far end of the unclosed slit bottom, the plaiter commences a three-ply braid (whiri) with the wefts directed toward her on either side. When she gets to the near end and has incorporated all the wefts directed toward her in the braid, she continues the braid in a free, thick, braided tail (take) and fixes the end with an overhand knot. The free tail is about 11 inches long. The ends are then reversed, and the remaining wefts on either side, which are now directed toward the plaiter, are braided in a similar way. The bottom is thus closed by a two-course braid, each course being completed by its own free tail. (See fig. 36.) Each tail is pushed through over two crossing wefts into the inside of the basket. The cuff is stretched and flattened out and the free tails pushed through to the outside at the ends of the bottom. The tails are turned upward and after a short course of 3.5 inches on the outside the knotted ends are pushed through to the inside. (See pl. 4, B, 2–3.) Owing to the longitudinal course of the thick braid tails on the bottom, the basket described is more elliptical than circular at the bottom. In the type basket, the wefts were 0.8 inch wide, but in a smaller, neater basket the wefts were 0.4 inch wide. In the neater basket, the narrower wefts were rendered possible by introducing a larger number of the extra wefts (huru).
Figure 36. Round basket, bottom closure: rounded body (1) of basket with midrib strip rim (2) shown with cuff-like bottom (3) formed of three rows of check with four-element wefts; bottom closed by bringing sides together; first braid (4) formed by plaiting from right to left with wefts directed toward left; remaining wefts directed toward right, plaited from left to right to form second braid (5); both braid tails finished off with overhand knots (6).
Figure 37. Braid commencement of rim of kete ngahengahe. a, three strips of leaflet (1–3) commence three-ply braid; back ply (1) on left crossed over into middle position. b, two wefts (4, 4′) added together to middle ply (1) which came in from left; cut-off butt ends rest on turn of ply and long length of wefts joins long length of ply; care taken in adding wefts to keep shiny surface of wefts uppermost; though leaflet midribs with thicker parts on either side split off, edge of weft toward midrib still shows different consistency to edge away from it; to obtain neat plaiting, midrib edges of each series of wefts must all face same direction; of two wefts added to braid, under one will subsequently function as dextral and upper as sinistral in all pairs added to braid; in adding pairs to braid, craftswoman selects wefts with midrib edge to right for lower element (4) and wefts with midrib edge to left for upper element (4′); detail indicates care taken to enhance effect, c, two wefts (4, 4′) being in position, back ply (3) on the right crossed over them to middle position; back ply on left (2) crossed over 3 to take middle position. d, all additional pairs of wefts added to ply which comes in from left as in b; two wefts (5, 5′) therefore added to middle ply from left (2). e, two plies being now on right, back ply (1) with its two added wefts (4, 4′) brought over to middle with half-twist to round braid; position of wefts now reversed, weft 4 being above 4′ and ply 1 above 4. f, back ply (3) brought over from left to middle position and two wefts (6, 6′) added to it. g, back ply (2) on right brought over to middle position bringing two wefts (5, 5′) with it; back ply (1) on left brought over to middle position, but two wefts (4, 4′) associated with it, now sufficiently fixed by their course in braid, left out as shown; fixation technique established; two more wefts will be added to middle from left (1), and back ply on right (3) will be brought over to middle position with its accompanying wefts (6, 6′); back ply (2) will then be brought over to middle position from left, leaving two wefts (5′, 5) fixed on left; two new wefts will be added to middle ply (2) to take place of those left out; technique continued until required length reached; thus each ply contains original ply element with two added wefts; in every movement from left, two fixed wefts left out, original ply element brought over to middle position, and two new wefts added to it. h, section of braid with paired weft added.
Figure 38. Twilled plaiting of kete ngahengahe. a, braided rim commencement turned over in position for plaiting with all wefts directed toward right; upper elements (4′) form dextrals and lower elements (4) will supply sinistrals. b, technical twilled-two stroke; commencing on left, number of upper laying elements raised with right hand; lower element on left (4) turned to left with left hand, and next lower element to right (5) also turned to left; left upper weft (4′) dropped over the required two, and left down; next lower element (6) turned to left and next upper element (5′) dropped over it from right hand and left down; similarly, upper weft (6′) dropped over lower weft (7) and so plaiting moves to right by successively turning lower weft to left and dropping upper weft over it; once commencement made, twilled-two proceeds automatically. c, when a sufficient depth has been secured, two pairs of dextrals raised with intervening pair left down; thus in last movement, two pairs (1′, 2′, 5′, 6′) were kept raised and intervening pair (3′, 4′) left down; sinistral weft (6) was then bent into shed prepared; in next movement in order to continue horizontal row of twill, upper or far numbers of raised pairs (1′, 5′) will be dropped and recumbent wefts below or on near side of raised wefts (3′, 7′) raised to complete raised pairs; the next sinistral (7) will be bent into shed and twilled-two technique thus continued; result as shown on surface is two horizontal rows of twilled-two dextrals and one intervening row of twilled-two sinistrals; horizontal twilled-twos continued for full length of braid; ends of braid then brought together and free wefts from each end plaited in same twill so as to close space (tutaki).
Figure 39. Rim wrapping of kete ngahengahe: strip of papa material (1) 0.8 inch wide folded longitudinally over rim to conceal rim braid (2) on both sides; length of thin two-ply twisted sennit cord (3) knotted at one end, passed through hole made through rim just above two lower edges of papa strip, knot to inside; a series of half-hitches made through similar holes about 0.3 inch apart, crossing (4) of half-hitches being on outer side of rim; wrapping worked to left to complete circuit of rim.
4. Foreign basket (tongini). This type of basket has been described by Handy (15, pp. 21–35) for Tahiti, and for Cook Islands by Hiroa (27, p. 168), and the Rakahangan technique differs in no way from that described. In Rakahanga the basket is made with four interlocking pairs of midrib strips, each pair carrying 4 and 3 leaflets respectively. (See pl. 4, B, 1.) The handles are plaited in flat bands, and the leaflets that pass around on the outside are plaited in three-ply braid and knotted together under the basket bottom. The baskets are large for such baskets. The basket is frankly acknowledged not to be native to Rakahanga. In Tahiti it is called oini and in Aitutake, ohini. The Rakahangan name, tongini, is evidently a local adaptation of the other name.
5. Full-leaf braided basket (fig. 40). This quickly made receptacle is made from a section of coconut leaf midrib with the leaflets on either side intact. It has been described by Handy (15, p. 62, fig. 27) for Tahiti. I could not determine whether it was introduced into Rakahanga from that area with the tongini, but the identity of technique favors the probability of diffusion in the post-missionary period.page 124
Figure 40. Braid technique of full-leaf braided basket. a, section in middle defined by counting off about five opposite pairs of leaflets and cutting nicks (6, 7) on under surface of midrib to outer side of end leaflets (1, 5); the two ends bent up at right angles to middle section; seven opposite pairs of leaflets counted on either vertical limb and ends cut off; horizontal middle section forms bottom of basket; commencing with leaflets on one side of midrib, three-ply braid started at bottom; middle leaflet (3) forms first ply, left leaflet (2) brought over it to form second ply, and leaflet on right (4) brought over to middle position to form the third ply; the back ply (3) brought over to the middle position from left ready to have weft from left added to it. b, from last position, leaflet 1 added to middle ply; back ply on right (2) crossed to middle position from right and next leaflet on right (5) added to it; this includes last leaflet from bottom section; from now on, with each turn of braid, leaflet added alternately from either side commencing with lowest leaflet (1′) on left and then lowest leaflet (1″) on right; when all side leaflets have been added to braid, ends continued on as free braid tail (8) and knotted. Basket turned over and leaflets on other side braided in similar manner; the two braid tails knotted together to form handle for basket.
Plaited shades for the eyes (taumata) are very quickly and roughly made, as they are not permanent articles but are discarded after use. Two forms were seen. The simplest form was made from one midrib strip carrying 7 leaflets. (See fig. 41.) The other is made with the simple two-strip commencement, each strip carrying four leaflets. The check stroke with the open leaflets is used. The technique is similar to that of the first shade in commencement, but the plaited band is made longer. Thus in the simple eye shade only two half-turns are made on the short side of the shade (fig. 41, b), but in the second form six half-turns are made. The end edge (fig. 41, c) is formed in the same way, but instead of finishing with a three-ply braid, a narrow band is plaited by closing the leaflets and thus narrowing the wefts. The ends of the leaflets are knotted and form one tie, and the other tie is provided by a long continuation of the midrib strip. (See pl. 4, A, 6.) These shades were used in fishing to protect the eyes from the glare of the sun, but plaited hats with brims are taking their place.page 125
Figure 41. Simple eye shade (taumata). a, midrib strip split off from right side of leaf and section bearing seven leaflets cut off; four leaflets (1–4) on right function as natural sinistrals; strip bent up on left and three leaflets (5–7) bent in as dextrals; the four sinistrals and three dextrals interlaced in check with open leaflet, b, plaiting proceeds by turning lowest sinistral (4) on left with upward half-turn to cross sinistral 3 above it in check; left edge formed in same way by successive half-turns; on right, edge formed by turning lowest dextral (5) with upward half-turn to cross dextral (6) above it and function as sinistral; next dextral (6) turned and plaiting continued until other six wefts have crossed sinistral (6) which is key weft for change in position, c, plaiting moved so that what was left edge is toward plaiter; key weft (6) is bent upward over crossing weft (5) and returns parallel to its previous course; other six wefts now sinistrals; edge formed on left by turning up lowest sinistral (5) with upward half-turn to cross sinistral 1 above it and function as dextral; other sinistrals (1–4) successively turned up with upward half-turn and function as dextrals; lowest dextral on right (6) takes upward half-turn and crosses the others as last sinistral, when it is left projecting at left edge; sinistral 7 takes half-turn across top sinistral (6); again, six dextral wefts; these plaited in three-ply braid, first ply being formed by middle wefts (2, 3); two lowest wefts (5, 1) form second ply which crosses first while remaining two upper wefts (4, 7) form third ply which crosses second ply; three plies plaited in free tail (8) and knotted; end of free weft (6) on right simply knotted to crossing weft (7); coconut leaflet (9) knotted around first leaflet (1) on right; leaflet 9 and braid tail (8) used as strings to tie at back of head to keep shade in position.