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The Coming of the Maori

Lattice Work

Lattice Work

The lattice work used in decorative wall panels (tukutuku) is a local development in New Zealand. The plain panels of vertical rows of shiny kakaho flower stalks were good enough for the family sleeping houses (whare puni) but the great advance in the interior decoration of the
Fig. 89. Lattice-work patterns.a, roimata toroa; b, poutama; c, niho taniwha; d, kaokao; e, patiki.

Fig. 89. Lattice-work patterns.
a, roimata toroa; b, poutama; c, niho taniwha; d, kaokao; e, patiki.

page 306carved meeting houses included the wall panels. As in weaving, a change in technique was introduced to obtain the decorative effects. The spaced cross bars of the simple wall panels changed position to the front and were placed close together to form a continuous surface. White and black strips of flax or kiekie and sometimes yellow pingao were used in single or in cross stitches to form various patterns. I have described a number of them elsewhere (86). Fanciful names were given to the different patterns. It is probable that the simpler forms were the older such as spaced vertical rows, usually in twos, termed variously roimata (tears), roimata toroa(albatross tears), and turuturu (falling rain drops) and the popular step pattern termed poutama. Zigzag lines were termed kaokao (ribs), triangles were niho taniwha (dragon's teeth) lozenges were patiki (flounder) and so on as the fancy of the craftsmen decided. See Figure 89. Some of the later designs were elaborated into houses, spears, and human ancestors duly labelled with their names as in the celebrated Waiapu meeting house of Porourangi.