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The Coming of the Maori

Coloured Borders

Coloured Borders

The introduction of colour into the narrow side bands of the dogskin cloaks was very simple. The bands were made by close single-pair twining like the body of the cloak but a thread dyed black or brownish red formed one of the weft pair. By the technique of single-pair twining, the coloured thread came to the front on alternate warps. By starting with the same colour in front on the first warp, the successive weft rows would have produced straight transverse lines but from the garments examined, it is evident that oblique lines were preferred. This was easily done by alternating the front colour on the first warp in each weft row (Fig. 32a). It is obvious that the coloured and the white threads of the weft had to be knotted together on the left of the first warp.

Fig. 32. Colour technique.a, half turn; b, full turn (birdcage twine).

Fig. 32. Colour technique.
a, half turn; b, full turn (birdcage twine).

An advance from coloured lines to coloured bands was easily effected by changing the half turns of the single-pair twine to full turns with the thread whose colour was to be kept in front, while the other thread remained passive at the back of the warps. Thus in making bands of colour three warps wide and commencing with black, the black thread passes in front of the first warp on the left and the white behind it. Instead, however, of making a half-turn and reversing the colours, the page 172black makes a complete turn around the white and thus passes over the front of the second warp while the passive white continues behind it The process is repeated over the third warp and we have our three blacks. The black now makes a half-turn with the white which comes to the front. The white passes over the front of the fourth warp while the now passive black passes behind it. The white makes a complete turn around the black and passes over the front of the fifth warp. It repeats the full turn and passes over the front of the sixth warp. Its quota being completed, it makes a half turn to bring the black to the front when the process is repeated for the full length of the weft row. A full turn keeps the same colour in front and a half turn changes it. Here again oblique bands were preferred to transverse or vertical bands, and the colours were moved one warp to the right in successive weft rows (Fig. 32b).

The technique of making a turn over a warp and around a passive horizontal element at the back resembles the technique used in making wire bird cages and it has been referred to as the birdcage twine. The Maori technique, however, differs in using a half turn regularly to reverse the active and passive elements to change the colour. The coloured bands may be made as wide as desired by including more warps in each colour but the technique restricts the number of colours to two.