Ethnology of Manihiki and Rakahanga
It is unfortunate that no accounts of the first contacts of European voyagers with the atolls of Manihiki and Rakahanga seem to be available. The present population has had little handed down regarding the ornaments and personal decoration of early times.page 137
Ribbons consisting of the thin white material peeled off from the tua surface of the closed young coconut leaves of the growing center (rito) were used. They were tied together in long thin streamers and stuck in the hair by women on festive occasions. The material (kamuka) corresponds in form and use to the revareva of Rarotonga.
Figure 48. Long perineal band (taoa): from left end (1) to middle (4), length is 11 feet 2.5 inches, total length is 22 feet 5 inches; width (patapata) at ends, 14.5 inches, and in middle, 10.5 inches; end from points 1 to 2, 33.5 inches long, maintains width of 14.5 inches; this part colored with overlaid wefts and at intervals of about 8 inches, transverse rows (5) of twilled-threes relieve check; length between points 2 and 3, 45.5 inches, and width gradually diminishes from 14.5 inches on left to 10.5 inches on right; narrow parts (6, 6) at either edge carry on colored overlaid plaiting, but middle part (7) is plain white check plaiting relieved by four longitudinal rows of twilled-twos; beyond ends of colored strip (6, 6), middle part of band (8) plain; right half of band repetition of left half; fringe (9) of tou bast dyed with nenu, 4 inches deep; extends across ends, continued for 3 inches along sides; narrow strip (peipei) (10) consists of stained papa material, doubled and split on free edges to within 0.15 inch of doubled edge; this laid on edge of plaiting with split parts directed outward; as each side weft of plaiting reaches edge margin, turned in over split portion of peipei and so fixes it in position as part of fringe; strips of tou bast also added (whakaumu) to split portions of peipei and fixed by plaiting edge; bast strips caught by middle, and end which projects in over plaiting turned out to join other limb in fringe; when peipei split portions and bast have been fixed by plaiting, unsplit portion which lies on plaiting folded outward and thus covers split parts and makes neater finish; in finishing off edges, beyond peipei (10), plain wefts turned back in usual finishing edge technique observed in band finish of two-cornered satchels; in wefts overlaid with colored papa, colored material turned back but plain weft beneath left out and subsequently cut off; in narrow colored strips (6, 6) check stroke used throughout; edges of plain part (8) turned in finishing technique on under surface making narrow finishing strip about 0.2 inch deep; wefts cut off.
Neck ornaments (takawe). A form of ornament plaited from coconut leaf or lauhala was worn around the neck (hei ki te kaki) by the whakamaru. The appearance of these ornaments was regarded with a certain amount of fear by the public, as it was known that the wearer was about to consult his god.
Breast ornament (fig. 49). Edge-Partington (6, series 1, p. 62, no. 5) figures a breast ornament and describes it as, “Breast ornament of pearl shell in shape of fish.” The ornament is 7 inches long, much larger than the shank of an ordinary bonito hook. Such ornaments were not mentioned page 138 to me. The addition of two short strings of beads attached at one end to a hole in the shell resembles the post-European technique of Melanesia, to which area the ornament may belong.
Tattooing was not indulged in until after European contact.