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The Material Culture of the Cook Islands (Aitutaki)

The Composition of the Decorative Band

The Composition of the Decorative Band.

The colour, apart from white, was contributed by the overlaid sinistrals, and formed diagonal panels of red and black. These elements are passive, and, being regarded as filling or spacing, do not receive names in the designs.

The active white dextrals in a typical band may be divided into three sets—the fixation rows, the borders, and the main motive of the design.

(1.)The fixation rows consist of a single row of check dextrals along each margin of the band. They fix the ends of the turns of the coloured elements in the manner shown in Fig. 116. They do not show up as a clear line of checks owing to the lower corners being crossed by the turn of the coloured element, but they form the limits of the width of the band, Fig. 118a.
Figure 118. Composition of a decorative band.

Figure 118.
Composition of a decorative band.

a Fixation rows of check. b Border rows of twilled twos (ara veri).

c Inner border rows of check (ara maori) d Mesial motive (puna rua).

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(2.)The borders, internal to the two fixation rows, are termed pange. They are for the purpose of adding finish (ei hakaoti) to the mesial and main motive. Fig. 118 shows a typical band with the usual border, or pange, of outer horizontal rows of twilled twos (b) and inner horizontal rows of check (c). The outer rows of twilled twos are called ara veri (the path of the centipede). They may be rows of twilled threes, but the name remains the same. They must be spaced from the fixation rows by a coloured row of twilled twos or threes.

The inner rows of check dextrals are named ara maori. Other patterns may be used instead of the outer rows of twilled twos, but the pange, or border, is always defined internally by a row of checks. The rows of ara maori are thus the orthodox technique for defining the mesial space to be devoted to the main motive of the band.

(3.)The main motive is formed by the grouping of the white dextrals that show in the mesial space between the two horizontal rows of the check ara maori. The motive may be a simple geometrical figure repeated throughout the length of the band or the continuation of a combination. In some cases the plaiter may change his main motive, but this is not usual. There is a large number of motives and variations, some old and many modern. Each motive has its own name, and the band takes its name from the main motive. The mesial area devoted to the main motive is clearly shown in Fig. 118 between the two ara maori (c), whilst the motive (d) is a square standing on one corner and termed punarua.