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The Material Culture of the Cook Islands (Aitutaki)

Tattoo Motives

Tattoo Motives.

Papavaro. The papavaro consists of a continuous series of chevrons. The lines meet at an obtuse angle, Fig. 305. They are traced over the anterior surface of the abdomen and the thighs. They are also traced on the back, but were essentially an anterior design, as shown by the song mentioned under manutai.

Figure 305.Papavaro motive.

Figure 305.
Papavaro motive.

Gudgeon4 states that this motive was introduced into Aitutaki by Te Muna-Korero, who named Maina Island on the reef. He named the motive pa-maunga, a range of mountains, in memory of a mountain range in far-off Havaiki.

Figure 306.Parepare motive.

Figure 306.
Parepare motive.

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Parepare The parepare motive is shown in Fig. 306. It was used on the shoulder, over the deltoid region, and also on the chest and wrist.

Tatatao. The tatatao is a face pattern consisting of three curved lines, which are used in three positions: (1) on the forehead, over each eyebrow, resembling the Maori tiwhana; (2) over each cheek, corresponding to the Maori kawe; and (3) on the chin, with the concavity upwards. See Fig. 307.

Figure 307.Tatatao motive.

Figure 307.
Tatatao motive.

Ruru. The ruru motive, Fig. 308, is worked on the wrists and forearms.

Figure 308.Ruru motive.

Figure 308.
Ruru motive.

Manutahi. The manutahi design is worked on the back. It consists of two vertical lines drawn down the spine, with short vertical lines between them. From these oblique pairs run upwards and outwards to the mid-auxiliary line. These pairs have short cross lines between them, Fig. 309.

Figure 309.Manutahi motive.

Figure 309.
Manutahi motive.

When a man had thy papavaro on the anterior surface of his body and the manutahi on his back, he took pride in page 366himself. At gatherings of the people he could stand forth in their midst and display his tattoo designs with the song:—

Ie huria, huria.
Huria te manutahi ki tahitikura.
Huria te papavaro ki tahitikura.

Oh turn, turn.
Turn the manutahi to one side,
Turn the papavaro to the other side.

The other motives recorded by Gudgeon are as follows:—

Puapua-inano. This is printed in the text as puapuainana, but there is no doubt that inana should be inano. Puapua-inano is the flower of the male pandanus. The motive is shown in Fig. 310. Gudgeon states that the
Figure 310. Puapua-inano motive.

Figure 310.
Puapua-inano motive.

motive was introduced by the chief Kaki, who came in the canoe Katopa-henua, entered by the Vaimotu passage, and landed at Taravao.

Komua. The komua motive was introduced by Irakau, who came by the Ui-tariao canoe and entered by the Taketake passage. Komua means the forward thrust of a spear. See Fig. 311.

Figure 311.Komua motive.

Figure 311.
Komua motive.

Paeko. The paeko, Fig. 312, was introduced by Te Erui-o-te-rangi.

Figure 312.Paeko motive.

Figure 312.
Paeko motive.

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Punarua, The punarua motive is associated with Ruatapu. The motive shown in Fig. 313 does not suggest the punarua motive of floor mats.

Figure 313.Punarua motive, attributed to Ruatapu.

Figure 313.
Punarua motive, attributed to Ruatapu.

Attention is drawn to the statement that the punarua, viti, tapuae mokora, and matautua motives in the decorative borders of mats were derived from tattooing motives. The ones shown above do not fit in with the contention, though it is probable that some tattooing motives have been forgotten.