The Maori Race
Dress, Ornaments, Etc
Dress, Ornaments, Etc.
* It is related that when Kahukura came from Hawaiki to New Zealand and visited Toi the resident chief, Rongi-i-amo, the friend of Kahukura, took some dried kumara from his girdle and presented it to Toi, who, with his people, had no previous knowledge of such a delicacy. The girdle must have been of large size since the dried sweet-potato (kao) was put into seventy calabashes, but it is probable that both Kahukura and Rongo were gods.4
Over the maro or apron was worn the kilt (rapaki) or waist mat. This generally consisted of a mass of strips of flax hanging from a belt of the same material. The green strips were scraped and left untouched in alternate inch-lengths, and were also scraped at the sides so that when dried they curled round like pipe stems. The loose strips hung down to the knees and rustled musically as the bearer moved. This kind of mat (kinikini or pokinikini) concealed the limbs sufficiently and gave full cope to movement. A waist mat (piupiu) was of similar length but was of dressed flax page 234 and did not rustle. Women sometimes wore a waist mat (pihipihi) of dressed flax with little rolls of flax in short lengths sewn thereon and dyed in horizontal stripes.
The most important garment for both sexes among the Maoris was the cloak worn hanging from the shoulders. These were sometimes very large, some of the handsomest being nine or ten feet by seven feet. Such cloaks were divided into two classes, fine woven cloaks which were properly called clothing (kakahu), and the rougher inferior varieties (mai), which latter never received the honour of being considered clothes. The fine cloaks were of many kinds each distinguished by its name.
The korowai was of fine flax beaten out with a club to make it soft. It was generally worn by women or girls. The white ground was thickly covered with black thrums or hanging tags (tahuka) of twisted flax. There are several varieties of cloaks almost similar, one (kuiri) with the thrums in squares, another (whaka-hekeheke) the groundwork of which is arranged in bands of black and white, with black thrums, another (hihina) entirely white with white thrums, and a fifth (waihinau) all black with black thrums. The korirangi was a large mat covered with black and yellow strings, the latter made of curled hand-scraped flax, but with joints of each tag made flexible by scraping so that the countless hard pipes rattled merrily.
The kaitaka or aronui was a fine white mat of flax without thrums, but with a deep border (taniko) woven in black, white, and brown page 235 patterns at the bottom, and with similar but narrower borders at the sides. Only chiefs of good position wore the kaitaka. When this kind of mat had a deep border at top as well as at bottom, it was called paepaeroa. There were several other varieties of mats with coloured borders, such as korohunga, parawai, and parakiri, each with some slight difference from the other. The border was woven on after the body of the mat was finished. A mat often seen was the pekerangi in which the white flax was studded with little tufts of coloured material instead of thrums.
Feather cloaks (kakahu-kura or huruhuru) were woven of flax in the same manner as the korowai, but in the process of weaving feathers were fastened in by the woof-thread. They were often very beautiful. One of the most showy was that made from the red feathers under the wing of the parrot (kaka: Nestor meridionalis). Another handsome cloak was prepared with the neck-plumes of the wood-pigeon, often with a narrow border of red and white feathers. The Maoris prized highly the garment (arikiwi) made with the hair - like feathers of the kiwi (Apertyx). The kiwi cloak is the only one of the feather cloaks in which the feathers are worn with their points upwards so that they fall outwards, making the garment look as if composed of fur. Sometimes there is a woven border (taniko) in colours to this cloak. The feathers of the white albatross were also used for adorning cloaks, and so were those of the ground parrot (kakapo: Stringops habroptilus).page 236
The most valuable shoulder-mats of the Maori were the cloaks of dogskin (kahu kuri). The most highly-prized variety was that (kahu waero) made of the bushy tails of white dogs, fastened so thickly on the flax foundation (papa) that none of the textile portion could be seen. When the tails were less closely placed an inferior kind of mat called mahiti resulted. If instead of tails the skins of white dogs were used, sewn on in strips to the flax, the cloak was a puahi, if the skins were of black dogs it was a topuni. The latter also had a thick shaggy collar of the skins, and if very closely woven was called ihupukupuku. The ihupuni was also a cloak made of strips of black skins. A cloak for use in war (for protection against spear thrusts) was made without any flax foundation, and composed of the hides of the dogs sewn together. The mat was known as tapahu or tahi-uru, and hence the proverbial saying “Irawaru's cloak” (He tapahu o Irawaru) applied to them, because Irawaru, the husband of Maru's sister Hina, was the tutelary deity of dogs, after he himself had been turned into a dog by his cunning brother-in-law. Maori legends mention cloaks of seal - skin (kahu kekeno), but except in the far South they were exceedingly rare.
The rough inferior cloaks (mai or pokeke), or more properly capes, were strong and serviceable, used tied round the shoulders for warmth or in bad weather, as most of them would turn the rain. The timu or whakatipu was made of loosely-woven coarse flax, and was about four feet by three. The ground- page 237 work was thatched with short pieces of unscraped flax, or rather unscraped except about one inch in the centre of each piece, which was dressed so as to allow of some flexibility in the hanging strips (hukahuka). These were fastened by being passed under the woof-thread and doubled over, so that they were fixed (like the hairs in a brush), and the loose ends hung flat one over the other to shed the rain. This mat had a collar formed from the upper ends of the warp-thread (io). A cloak much resembling the above was the tihe-tihe. A showy kind of timu, generally coloured black and yellow, was the manaeka or mangaeka, so called from the dye of the same name.
Other kinds of rough shoulder-capes (tatara, tara, taratara, pake, pekerere, pora, tuapora, pukaha, pureke, etc.), were in common use, they differed in some slight degree from each other, but not in any important degree. A cloak (pauku or pukupuku) was very thick and closely woven; after being soaked in water to swell the fibre it was worn in war time as a protection against the long spears (huata) or darts thrown with the kotaha or whip. One of these mats was worn above the other, and formed a cumbersome sort of armour. The pauku had an ornamental border with a fringe (kurupatu) of dogs hair on the lower hem. Sometimes as a defence against the spears cast with the whip-sling (kotaha) a plaited band of flax about six inches wide was wound round the body. As the band was often ten fathoms long, such a preparation needed some time to accomplish.page 238
Other materials than flax were sometimes used for cloaks, though rarely if the flax was plentiful. Rough shoulder mats of kiekie were serviceable garments, but the fibre was prepared by steeping not by scraping. They were soaked in water until the fibre could be easily separated from the refuse. The Tuhoe tribe found a substitute for flax in the leaves of the mountain cabbage-tree (toi: C. indivisa). It is much coarser fibre than flax, and the midrib of each leaf had to be taken out, as it was too hard to work up. Only enough leaves could be cut for one or two weavings, as they dried too rapidly to be kept in stock, and the fibre itself required beating before the cuticle and refuse (para) of the leaf could be taken away. Rough almost as cocoa-nut fibre, the toi was a serviceable cloak, and when dyed black (with unbeaten strips of the same material as thrums or “thatch”) they would remain waterproof for years.
In the South Island mats have been found in which the flax has been covered with tufts of tussock grass. Sometimes a sea-side-spreading plant named pingao (Demoschœnus spiralis) was used for making belts, and the soft leaves of kahakaha (Astelia banksii) were also taken into the service of mat-makers.
In former times there were in New Zealand large plantations of the Paper Mulberry (aute: Broussonnetia papyrifera), but the shrubs never grew to a large size, so that bark-clothing like the tapa of the South Seas was not worn within historic times. There is, however, a tradition of the Ngati-awa tribe that in old page 239 days the bark of the mulberry was used as clothing, and that two men, Te Whatu-manu and Te Manawa, were renowned as beaters of the material for garments. One of the names of these ancient garments was te kiri o Tane “the skin of Tane,” i.e. of Tane Mahuta, the Lord of Forests. Generally the aute bark was used for ornaments, as thin streamers for tying up the hair of chiefs, etc., and for making the most valuable kind of kite. Small plantations of aute were seen growing at Whangaroa and Mangamuka so late as 1839, but (except perhaps in some garden) the plant is now extinct. It is supposed to have been brought to New Zealand in the “Tainui” canoe, and was first planted by Whakaotirangi, one of the women of that canoe. Another lady on board, Marama by name, also planted aute, but on account of sexual indiscretion on her part the plant did not “come true” but appeared as the whau (Entelea arborescens). Indeed so highly moral were all the vegetables which she attempted to grow that they came up as something different from what she attempted to raise; a disastrous result luckily confined to a remote period of history. The bark of aute-taranga (Pimelea arenarica) was also used for ornamental purposes, and for the belts of chiefs. The legs and feet of the natives were generally uncovered, but sometimes sandals were worn, or rather sandals and leggings combined. They were usually, in the North Island, constructed of flax, either woven or green. Of these the panaena was of dressed fibre; it was little more than a toe-cap, and was fastened page 240 with a cord from the heel passed round the ankle. The rohe was a combined sandal and legging. The papari was a legging sandal of green flax stuffed or lined with moss (rimurimu). The parengarenga or kopa was a broad piece of woven flax folded round the leg and then laced from ankle to knee. The tumatakuru was a combined sandal and legging, netted from the alpine spear-grass tumatakuru or kurikuri: Aciphylla squarrosa). They were folded over the foot and leg and then fastened by lacing. Sandals made from the leaves of the cabbage-palm (ti: Cordyline sp.) were sometimes made; they were called parewai in the North and tahitahi in the South Island. The latter, however, only received this name when composed of one (tahi) layer of material; they were called torua when of double thickness. The southern name for a sandal generally was paraerae, but the paraerae hou or kuara was so called when only one layer or thickness of flax was used.5
* The lei is the Samoan and Tongan word for the whale's tooth, in Mangareva rei is a whale's tooth. See also aurei in regard to ear-pendants.
Little or no attention was paid by slaves or common persons to the dressing of their hair which fell about their shoulders how it would. The chiefs wore their hair long in times of peace, though it was not wholly free from freaks of fashion. The most common style was the putiki, in which the hair was gathered into a knob behind the head (almost in the Japanese mode) and fastened with a comb (heru or amiki) formed from a portion of the thin part of the jaw of the sperm-whale (paraoa). Other combs were made from the heart-wood (mapara) of the white-pine (kahikatea), or from the stalks of a fern (heruheru: Todea inter-media).6 The comb of a chief was sacred. When the head was dressed elaborately even the wooden pillow or head-rest could not be used for sleeping lest all the trouble be wasted. As a variation, a number of small knobs page 242 varying from two to eight, were sometimes worn round the head. The coiffure called “the Top-knot” (koukou) was formed over a framework of supple-jack (kareao or pirita) which supported the hair. The latter having been plaited with eight tails was wound round the frame with the ends turned up on the top of the head. The rahiri method of hairdressing consisted in turning the hair up like a sheaf, and binding it with a tie of aute ribbon.7 At certain times and places tikitiki was the fashionable mode. It was formed by drawing the hair to the top of the head and slipping it through a two-inch ring (porowhita) made from the akatea vine; the ring was pressed down close to the head, the hair arranged neatly and evenly all round the ring and the ends brought up and tied underneath the ring. This style in old days was not wholly confined to men, as we are told that Maui, the hero-god, received his full name Maui-tikitiki-a-Taranga, because he had been hidden or carried in the tikitiki of his mother Taranga. An unusual mode of hairdressing was “the rat path” (ara-kiore), in which the hair was thinned out in a broad parting from the forehead to the base of the skull. Of course an inferior could not touch the sacred head of a chief for the purpose of dressing his hair, but sometimes a high chief would comb and dress the hair of his sons of rank. He would not do this, however, for his bastard sons or for his sons by an inferior wife. Beards were not worn, because they hid the tattooing of the face; the hairs of the beard were removed with tweezers of mussel-shell.page 243
The women generally wore their hair short if unmarried, and when arranged in a mass of curls (potikitiki) it distinguished them from the married ladies, who favoured plaits of long hair braided round the head. The fan-like wharawhara plant and the downy skin of the Celmisia supplied material for the women's hair-adornment. A sign of mourning was the tiotio or reureu, a long lock hanging down at one side of the neck while the rest of the hair was cropped short; the effect of this when worn with the mourning cap (potae-taua) was somewhat ludicrous.
Green leaves of various plants were used by women as ornaments, but especially as signs of mourning. Artificial chaplets or fillets (pare or rakai) were also worn; generally they were woven bands of flax or kiekie. If adorned with feathers they were called kotaha. Sometimes a cap covered with feathers was used as a head-dress.8 The mourning caps (potae-taua) were really fillets, and were worn by widows. They were made of the inner part of a large lake-growing rush, dyed black and yellow, and woven with thrums, which hung down all round the head and over the wearer's eyes. Sometimes these were decorated with birds' tails (removed in one piece) and allowed to move about.
Feathers were extensively used for hair-adornment. The most valued kinds were tail-feathers of the huia (Heteralocha acutirostris). wing-feathers of the white heron (Ardea sacra) and the long red tail-feathers of the amokura (Tropic bird: Phaethon rubricauda). The ancient war-plume (marereko) consisted of page 244 twelve huia feathers. There was one peculiarity attending the use of the white heron plume. A woman was not allowed to eat food in the presence of a man who wore such a plume. If she ate anything her hair would fall out, but if the visitor removed the feathers and put them aside she might eat.
As an almost invariable rule Maoris disliked wearing red feathers or red flowers in the hair, and practically never did so. There are legendary allusions to such a fashion, however. We are told that in far Hawaiki, Uenuku “made red plumes for his children,” and in the story of Hinepopo the girls danced “wearing balls of red feathers as ornaments in their ears.”9 Maru-tuahu also wore fifty red parrot (kaka) feathers in his hair.10 These references only make the usual dislike more apparent by contrast. The well-known story of the “red wreath of Mahina,” told as an incident of the arrival of the Arawa canoe, is a misunderstood legend and has some far remote origin; probably it is a lunar myth, since Mahina means “the moon.”
Feather plumes were kept by their owners in small boxes (waka-huia) often beautifully carved.11
Bird-skins (pohoi), dried into cylindrical shape over a rounded piece of wood, were worn fastened to the ears. The skin of the purple swamp-hen (pukeko: Porphyrio melanotus) soaked in titoki-berry-oil and scented with fragrant tarata gum was often tied to the ear or worn round the neck. Balls of down from the breast of the albatross or other sea- page 245 birds were similarly used and known as pohoi or kopu. Nasal decorations, consisting of the tail-feathers of birds thrust through the pierced septum of the nose, were now and then affected by the men, but rarely.
The most prized ear ornaments were pendants of greenstone (jade), although similar articles were formed of bone or shell. These ear-drops (kai or whaka-kai) were named according to their shape, material, or quality, as —kuru, kapeu, kapehu, tangiwai, tautau (this last is curved to one side at the end), tara, etc.12 Some ear-pendants were priceless on account of their historic or legendary interest and were kept as heir-looms. Of such articles may be mentioned the famous kuru, known as kaukau-matua. It was brought to New Zealand by the almost mythical ancestor Ngahue, and became the property of Tama-te-kapua. It is often alluded to in Maori poetry and tradition.13
The ear-drop was worn suspended by a string (turuki or kope) made of aute bark.14 The small Marine fish known as the Sea-horse (kiore-moana: hippocampus) was sometimes caught, dried, and worn in the ear. A highly valued ear-pendant was the conical shark-tooth (mako). It was obtained from the mako, the largest variety of shark.*
* The Maori knew of many varieties of shark—mako, ururoa, karaerae, pioke, uatini, tahapounamu, taiari, mangotara, tatere, arawa, horopekapeka, tope, wharepu, and twenty or more others; the general name was mango.
Around the throat necklaces of teeth were worn; those of sharks, dogs, seals, and human beings being common, and a pendant sperm-whale's tooth highly prized.15 A very small ornament called pekapeka derives its name from its resemblance to a bat (Scotophilus). When human teeth were worn as necklaces they were often relics of some fallen foe. page 247 Other necklaces of imitation teeth (niho kakere) cut from portions of a sea-shell have also been found. A large pendant resembling a hook (matau) was occasionally to be seen,16 but by far the most valuable of all was the grotesquely hideous breast-ornament, the heitiki. It has been sometimes thought that the heitiki was the image of a god, hei meaning “to wear round the neck” and Tiki being the name of a god. Probably, however, the heitiki was only a memento of an ancestor; it was never addressed, invoked, or prayed to. The heitiki was sometimes laid down and wept over (when friends long separated had met) in memory of the people who had worn it. The ornaments were regarded as heirlooms or keepsakes (manatunga). When a chief was conquered and made a slave his wife was expected to send her heitiki to the wife of the victor. If the last of a family died the heitiki was also finally buried. If ornaments were buried with a chief or lady of rank they were re-acquired when the exhumation (uhunga) took place. Heitiki were generally made of greenstone, but sometimes of bone, and in one or two cases from the bone of the human skull.17 Small ornaments in some degree resembling the human figure were called tiki-popohe.
Women and girls wore round their necks little bags made of the plumage of the grey duck or the male paradise duck. Small bags (putea) of woven flax were filled with scented moss or tarata gum and worn round the neck. A perfume was made from a spiky plant page 248 (taramea). The process was to hold it over the fire and catch the exuding oil in the bottom of a calabash.
Young people collected berries of the miro (Podocarpus ferruginea), the mangeao (Tetranthera calicaris), and kohia (Passiflora tetandra, a creeper) to express oil from them, and the oil was scented with moki, a kind of fern, akerau-tangi (Dodonea viscosa), karetu (Hierochloe redolens) and other sweet-scented grasses and plants.
A very handsome piece of work in greenstone was lately discovered. It was the head-rest (Kohamo) on which the neck of a deceased chief was set during the funeral rites, and was formerly used by the Ngati-Mahuta tribe of Waikato. It was in shape an irregular oval, countersunk to fit the back of the head and neck. It was of polished and beautifully coloured jade, weighing between 50 and 60 lbs. The length was about eighteen inches by eleven inches by six inches.
It may be as well in this place to speak of the famous greenstone of which the neck ornaments heitiki and the ear-pendants were made, as well as the best adzes and mere. The Maori greenstone (pounamu) called jade, jadeite, nephrite, etc., by Europeans, is a mineral very restricted in its deposits. Most of it has been obtained in the beds of the Teremakau and Arahura rivers, on the West Coast of the South Island, although one variety (tangiwai), which though soft is beautiful in appearance, is found at Milford Sound. It is not, however, a true pounamu. Green- page 249 stone is a very beautiful stone when polished, and its extreme hardness made it of exceeding value to a people like the Maori to which metals were unknown; the steel point of a pen knife will not scratch its surface. There are many varieties named by the natives (kawakawa, inanga, kahurangi, kahotea, totoweka, hauhunga, tuapaka), but all these differ from the Asiatic jade and from the poorer kinds found now and then in the New Hebrides, New Caledonia, and New Guinea.
One curious circumstance connected with greenstone is the uncertainty with which the Maori regarded its origin. Until quite recent times it was very scarce in the North Island (where the bulk of the Maori tribes resided) and very vague notions were possessed as to the genesis of the material. It was widely believed to be a fish or found in a fish. Cook was told by the natives that greenstone was speared in the sea, and that when it was dragged ashore it hardened into stone. The northern tradition is that the stone was obtained on Tuhua (Mayor Island, Bay of Plenty) but the guardian god became offended at some act of impiety so he covered the land with ordure (volcanic deposit) and swam away with the fish that produced the greenstone. There were three of these mythical fishes in the sea, viz, greenstone (pounamu), bitumen (mimiha), and the whale (pakaka). The northern belief as to the marine origin of greenstone probably accounts for its birth in Mythology as the child of Tangaroa, the ocean god, and Te Anu matao. The South Island peoples' legends page 250 are quaint, but they evidently were aware that pounamu was not a fish, although when Tinirau, the patron of fish, brought Hina to his home, and she was insulted by the resident wives of her bridegroom, she uttered an incantation which killed them and their burst bodies were seen to be full of greenstone. An ancient chief named Tama-nui-a-Raki met the greenstone, which he found alive. He cooked some of it in an oven, but it burst into splinters and flew all over the country. Another legend relates that the three sons of Tamatea were drowned in the Arahura river by the upsetting of a canoe, and their bodies were transformed into greenstone. It is said that Ngahue, the first discoverer of New Zealand, took back greenstone from the Arahura to Hawaiki, and from this stone were made the axes with which the Arawa and Tainui canoes were made in Rarotonga, for the great voyage to New Zealand. The only reliable stories, however, appear to be those relating how the Ngai-tahu tribe finding that the Arahura natives (Ngati-Kopia) possessed the precious stone assaulted and conquered them. Greenstone was fast becoming a medium of exchange among the natives when the Europeans arrived.
The greenstone boulders found in the river beds were broken up and the pieces roughly bruised into shape. To insure against cracks a deep groove was cut before breaking off, and a stone hammer (tukituki) was then used, sometimes fitted with a wooden handle, sometimes held in the hand. Thin pieces of quartzoze slate were worked saw-fashion, with page 251 plenty of water, till a furrow was made, first on one side and then on the other, till the club or adze was roughened into shape; the smaller pieces coming into service as ear-pendants, etc. The piece of greenstone was laid on the ground, or on a slab of wood and then ground down with a stone (hoanga, onetai, mataihona, etc.), generally a kind of gritty limestone or sandstone, till the face and edges were of proper shape. After this, slate was used to put a proper finish and polish to the weapon or ornament; sometimes for months and years the rubbing process would go on. The famous mere of Te Heu Heu (mentioned elsewhere) took generations of rubbing.
The most difficult part of the process was to make the hole in the handle of the mere (for the thong to pass through) or the spaces between the arms and legs of the heitiki, and the hole for the suspending string. These were made by drills (pirori or tuwiri) composed of pieces (mata) of sharp flint (kiripaka) set in the end of a split stick (pou) about 18 inches long to the upper part of which two strings (aho) were fastened so as to enable the stick to be twirled with a horizontal motion. The difficulty was to make the first impression. As the flint became blunted a new one was supplied. Two stones were tied to the upper part of the drill to steady it, or a heavy “whirl” (porotiti), a disc of wood, took the place of the stones. Sometimes only a pointed stick, sand and water were used for drilling holes and working greenstone for heitiki. A drill cap of wood or of the hardened cartilage of the whale page 252 was occasionally used in order that downward pressure could be applied to the rotating stick. When a party was out seeking greenstone they would, on reaching the coast, wait while their priests recited incantations and till he had time to dream. The priest, on awaking, would denote the locality in which to search and the party would spread along the river-bed until they found the vision-seen spot where the stone was to be found. The name of the spirit which had directed the priest was bestowed on the stone.
Personal decoration among the Maoris cannot be treated of without reference to two subjects, painting and tatooing.
Painting the head and body was generally effected with red ochre. There were two kinds of this pigment. One (horu) was found as a ferruginous deposit in creeks, and obtained by placing bundles of fern in the water; on these the rust-like ochre was thinly precipitated. Collected into balls it was baked in hot ashes and formed the best quality of kokowai. The other kind (takou) was found as a red volcanic earth and was generally procured from seams or layers in cliffs. Mt. Egmont (Taranaki) was a famous place for rich deposits of takou. The takou had, if too coarse, to be rubbed down on a large flat stone with a round water-worn pebble. The four kinds of ochre known at Hawke's Bay were kokowai, taupo, tareha, and karamea. The ochre was mixed with oil, either shark-oil or that obtained from crushed berries of the titoki tree (Alectryon excelsa). The balls of ochre were considered as valuable property page 253 and were kept in precious baskets; such a basket with its contents would be considered an equivalent present for a greenstone heitiki, or a dogskin mat. The paint was mixed with a little oil in the hand, and smeared all over the face and body. Sometimes the whole face was reddened, sometimes only one-half the face and head, the rest being blackened with charcoal dust; or bands of red crossed the face diagonally, these were called tuhi kohuru. If horizontal red bands were drawn on the forehead these were known as tuhi korae or tuhi marae kura.
The use of red ochre as a pigment was very general, but it was probably at one time reserved for particular occasions or circumstances, viz, those in which the persons or things so daubed were made “prohibited” (tapu), but this application will not fit all cases, and it gradually grew into little more than ornament. Among most ancient and some modern peoples the bones of the dead were coloured red as the symbol of the blood of sacrifice poured out at the funeral feast, and blood is “tapu” among almost all barbaric races. The Maoris painted the bones of their dead red, and the storehouses of their kumara crops also (probably in memory of the blood of the bringer sprinkled on the doorway—see under “Food”). War-canoes had the same bright hue, especially on the bow - pieces. Fences of graves, the large carved images on palisading of forts, the posts of boundaries, etc., were all painted red. A war-party would daub their faces with red paint before going page 254 into action—perhaps to make them terrible, perhaps a sign of sacredness and devotion to the war-god. Doubtless the custom varied in different parts of the country. Cook says that the clothes as well as the bodies of the natives were so bedaubed with red that one could hardly touch one of them without becoming besmeared. “The faces of both men and women were brightly painted with different colours. Sometimes stripes of red crossed the forehead diagonally, or horizontally, others would have a yellow chin and nose, the rest of the face red, others crimson with broad bands of blue.”18
It was useful to a chief that he should be painted red, for if he leant against a post the daub would show where “the sacred back” had rested, and the spot would be avoided by an inferior for fear of tapu. On the other hand there is evidence that it was (perhaps in certain localities) used for women and children on important occasions. It is related of an ancient chief named Tu-maro that when his wife was false to him he kept removing her from house to house till her child-birth purification and that of her infant were accomplished. Then early one morning he came to her and told her to paint herself and her infant with red ochre, to put on her best mats, and adorn her head with feathers. The woman did as she was bidden, wondering all the time what her husband meant to do. When she had finished adorning herself Tu-maro led her into the courtyard of Te-Ao-hiku-raki (the Lothario of the drama), whom he found sitting under page 255 his verandah. “Here,” said he, “is your wife and child,” and without another word turned away and went back to his own house.
Again, at one period, it would appear as if anointing the person or clothing with ochre was reserved for the unmarried women. In an old legend of the Ngati-awa tribe we are told of Whati-hua, a married man who had three children, but whose affections wandered from his faithful wife (polygamy was permitted, it should be remembered). The story runs: “Whati-hua became acquainted with a comely looking girl and wondered how he could obtain her for his wife. He considered the matter, and one day he said to his wife “O, mother”; who answered by saying, “What is it, O, father?” He answered: “I am going to spear birds”; to which proposal the wife assented. She was simple and did not suspect her husband of any deceit toward her; but he had said he was going to spear birds to mislead his wife in regard to his real object, as he had determined to go and see the fine-looking girl he had met some time before. He went to the forest he had spoken of to his wife—that was the home of the girl he now had a liking for, and the bird was this girl, so he went to the home of that girl and took her as his wife and lived with her. Now, according to our old custom this girl had her garments all besmeared with red ochre (horu), so that when he went back to his own house he was daubed with the red ochre, which, when he got near to his home, was seen on him by his wife. who was surprised at the sight, and quickly page 256 asked, “Where are the birds you have obtained?” He answered, “I have not been able to procure any birds.” She said, “Yes, but I will ever remember your conduct; I did think you were going to obtain birds from the forest, but now I find it was to seek another kind of bird.” He thought within himself, I have been discovered,” etc., etc. The rest of the legend is of no consequence in this connection, but it fixes the point that it was the unmarried girl and not the chief who was daubed with ochre.19 These examples have been given to show that there were eccentric or local variations of the custom, but it must not be forgotten that so far as historic times are concerned daubing with red paint seemed almost universal among the natives seen by European explorers.
Other pigments beside red ochre were sometimes used for ornamental purposes. One observer noticed Maoris whose nose and chin were stained bright yellow while the rest of the face was fiery red. Semetimes broad bands of blue (parakawāhia) encircled the eyes like spectacles; a band across the nose serving to unite the colouring pigment.
Generally blue paint for besmearing the face or person was procured from deposits of iron phosphate (pukepoto) and is supposed to be composed of decayed bones of the dinornis. Another kind of blue paint was obtained with difficulty, being found adhering to the roots of cyperaceous plants; it stained the cheeks a beautiful ultramarine. The bright yellow pollen of the flowers of the native fuchsia page 257 (kotukutuku: Fuchsia excorticata) was often smeared on the cheeks of women and young men.