Ethnology of Manihiki and Rakahanga
Women's garments enumerated were the double apron and kilt (tipora), the cape (pikipiki), and the poncho (tiputa).
1. The double apron form of tipora consisted of two rectangular pieces (tautape) of plaited lauhala. These were used in conjunction with a sennit belt (tukaha: tu, belt; kaha, sennit braid). Whether the tukaha was a particular form of belt like the many-stranded tu belts of New Zealand or merely a length of sennit braid was not made clear. page 135 The two tautape were of different sizes, the longer one being slung over the belt in front to conceal the genitals, and the smaller one being hung over the back. The two tautape, with the sennit belt, constitute the tipora; but sometimes the term tautape is loosely applied to the whole combination.
2. The kilt form of tipora (fig. 47) consisted of a long tautape (tautape roa) piece of plaiting which completely encircled the waist and thus acted as a narrow kilt. Some confusion existed between different informants, one maintaining that the narrow kilt with a hanging fringe was termed a mahere, and another that the mahere was the short perineal band. The kilt in plate 6, B, consists of a long, narrow band plaited in check with overlaid wefts of the thin papa material dyed red. The separate fringe of dyed tou bast, which is attached in a continuous piece to the upper and lower borders and both ends, is described in figure 47. The two-cord attachment to fix bast elements in a short fringe is exactly similar to the technique used with longer strips to make kilts in the Cook Islands (27, p. 88) and Samoa (28, p. 254). The method of sewing the lauhala strips to the plaited band is modern and is due to the introduction of needles and cotton thread. It is probable that in the original garments the wide lauhala strips were split at one end into wefts, which were plaited to form the band to keep the hanging lauhala strips together.
3. The cape (pikipiki) was also plaited with lauhala wefts, but the exact technique has been forgotten, as capes have long been out of use. Capes were worn over the shoulders and tied (ruruku) in front at the neck. They were stated to be women's garments, but were also worn ceremonially by men when going to the religious inclosures, or maraes.
Figure 47. Kilt and fringe technique. a, strip of tou bast (3) about 3 inches long, dyed red, doubled under two cords (1, 2) composed of strips of young coconut leaflets boiled and bleached white; doubling of strip of bast in middle forms far limb (4) and near limb (5). b, both bast limbs (4, 5) brought over two cords (1, 2) and passed down between them. c, strips of bast added successively to right and kept close together so that cords (1, 2) hidden by turns of the bast; in type kilt, fringe is 86 inches long. d, strips of papa lauhala (6) attached to inner side of lower edge of plaited band (7); strips range in width from 2.5 inches to 3 inches and are 28 inches long; strips doubled to half their length and the two ends sewn together with cotton thread to plaited band; two-ply twisted cords of white coconut leaflet used for decorative effect; four cords (8) bunched together are run along just above edge of plaited band on outer side; bast fringe (3) placed in position with its supporting cords (1) laid against edge of band (7) and just below decorative cords (8); cords and fringe attached to plaited band by single continuous thread of white coconut leaflet; stitch (9) passed through plaiting and around cords (8) from below upwards on outer side; after passing through plaiting above decorative cords, thread descends obliquely to right on back, passes under fringe cord (1) and makes stitch (10) over it to fix it to band; stitch around decorative cords (9) made and again thread passes to right on back to appear under fringe cord; in this way, by stitches 0.3 inch apart, both cords and fringe attached along all four edges of plaited band.
4. The poncho (tiputa) was plaited in check with prepared lauhala. (See pl. 6, A). A hole was left for the head so that the garment hung down in front and behind to the thighs or knees. The square-cut hole was decorated by a tou bast fringe made with the two-cord attachment as in the kilt fringe. The fringe was attached to the edge of the plaiting by a continuous colored bast thread which passed spirally around the fringe cord and through the edge of the plaiting. Another fringe was attached to the outer edges of the plaiting. This was composed of single strands of colored bast which were held down over the middle by two colored bast threads which passed along the edge in the plaiting strokes. The ends of the colored strands on the plaiting side were then turned outward.