Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Games and Pastimes of the Maori

The Pu Torino

The Pu Torino

The word pu is not a specific term for flutes, but seems to be applied to anything in the form of a hollow cylinder, hence it is employed as a general term, not only for flutes, but also for trumpets, and, in late times, for all forms of firearms. Thus in pu torino, pu tatara and pu kaea, it is the second word, used in an adjectival manner, that denotes the kind of instrument.

The pu torino is an instrument somewhat resembling a flageolet or piccolo, and may perhaps be viewed as a rude form of the same. The mouthpiece is at one end, the other end being brought to a point and is either solid or is pierced with a small hole. It was used as a mouth instrument only, and was never sounded with the nose. It has no series of holes or stops, merely one aperture in the middle, which is usually of an oval form, being the mouth of a head carved on the upper side of the instrument. This instrument is made wider in the middle than at the ends, as seen in the illustrations. Fig. 52 (see p. 218) shows four of these instruments, one being abnormally small.

Parkinson makes the following remarks on this instrument, which he calls a trumpet:—"A trumpet, nineteen inches and a half in length, made of a hard brown wood, which they split, and carefully hollow out each side so as to fit neatly again, leaving an edge on each side, and joining them together, they are bound tight with withes made of cane. It is broadest in the middle, which is rather flat, and gradually tapers to the ends that are open. In the middle of it there is a large hole which represents the mouth of a figure somewhat like a human one, having hands and feet, the parts of which are carved round the instrument. Another such like mask is also carved near one end of the trumpet. They produce a harsh, shrill sound." This account of the method of manufacture is quite correct, page 218 Fig. 52 Four Pu Torino or Flageolets in Mr. Beasley's Collection See p. 217 and applies equally to the pa kaea; the instrument was always made in two pieces. These pieces were hollowed out and carefully fitted together prior to being lashed with the small aerial roots of the kiekie (Freycinetia Banksii).

Forster describes some natives of the Wellington district who visited Queen Charlotte Sound during Cook's sojourn there in June, 1773, also some instruments in their possession. These were a pu kaea (a long wooden trumpet), a pu tatara (or pu moana) and a pu torino. Concerning the latter, he says:—"The third went by the name of a flute among our people, and was a hollow tube, widest about the middle, where it had a large opening, as well as another at each end. This and the first trumpet were both made of two hollow semi-cylinders of wood, exactly fitted and moulded together, as so to form a perfect tube."

Both Parkinson and Forster state that both ends were open in the instruments seen by them. Hari Wahanui, of Waikato, tells us that the fingers are kept on the hole in the middle when the pu is sounded. page 219 Fig. 53 A Pu Torino in the Edge-Partington Collection. Length, 21 inches From the Edge-Partington Album Fig. 54 Three Pu Torino in Auckland Museum. See p. 221 W. R. Reynolds, Photo page 220 Fig. 55 Three Pu Torino (on right) and Two Short Clubs (on left) in the Copenhagen Museum. See p. 221. Dr. Savage, who visited the far north in 1805, says that the aperture of the outer end was so stopped:—"They have another instrument formed of two pieces of wood bound together, so as to produce a tube about the size of a fife, whose figure is bellied out about midway, and at which part they make a small hole. This instrument is inflated at one extremity, while the other is occasionally stopped and opened so as to produce some variety in the modulation of the sound.

Thus it will appear that though the music of New Zealand is not remarkable for its variety, yet it affords an ample fund of amusement to the natives."

page 221

Earle, a later visitor in those parts, makes the same remarks, so that it may have been a practice of the musicians of that area:— "Another instrument is formed of two pieces of wood hollowed and then bound together; the centre is bellied out, and has a small hole: it is blown into at one end, and the other is occasionally stopped to produce variety."

"Me te wai e utuutu ana" was a saying employed to describe the sound of the pu torino. It sounded like water running into a gourd when you dip it into the creek.

In Fig. 54 (p. 219 are shown three pu torino in the Auckland Museum. The curved form is unusual.

In Becket's small work on Cook's first voyage we find the following remarks on Maori instruments:—"Their trumpets are near two feet in length, having a large, broad, flat belly or concavity, with a large hole about the middle: these produce a shrill hoarse sound. They commonly wear a small wooden whistle tied about the neck, which is open at both ends, and has two other perforations or holes." This writer also tells us that the nose flute of Tahiti has three holes. The first of these instruments referred to above was evidently the pu torino, and the second one the koauau.

The following note is from Du Clesmeur's Journal of 1772, the writer being a member of Marion Du Fresne's expedition. This journal is published in Vol. 2, of McNab's Historical Records of New Zealand—"Their music is as monotonous as that of the other Indians, if indeed it is not more so. We have only seen three kinds of musical instruments, of which one is a sort of trumpet which can be heard a very long way off. I can bear witness to this, having heard its sounds the day we burnt down the first village. They have also a species of flute made in two pieces, bound well together, into which they blow at the thick end. The smaller end and three little holes are closed with the fingers, and serve to vary the tones a little. The third instrument is almost the same, but is much smaller; into this they blow with their noses."

The trumpet mentioned may have been either a pu kaea or a shell trumpet. The second instrument was apparently a pu torino, though the three small holes are unknown to us. Possibly there is some confusion here. The last mentioned instrument was probably a nguru.

Fig. 55 shows three fine specimens of pu torino in the Copenhagen Museum, one of which shows a remarkable and well executed carved design. See p. 220.

There is a fine old well-finished pu torino in the Grey Collection at the Auckland Public Library.

page 222

The East Coast natives say that the following was sung to accompany the playing of the pu torino:—

"Te ata kura, te ata kura.
Te ata haia, te ata haia [?]
Mata whainga rawa koe i au
E taku taina ma tama
E tai e hoho, hoho."

Fig. 56 Two Pu Torino in the Hastings Museum. B gives the side view of A W. Poll, Photo

page 223

The following is another such collected by the late Mr John White—A song sung to the playing of the pu torino:—

He whakatangipu torino na namata.
"He tuki, he tono na Kara, na Tauru
Kia tukia te toka kowhatu
E tu ki te rere i Omiru
I rere koe, e ngaro ki te uru
Te kotia ai te kaki
Ki a Te Papa ou e Taramea
Me to maki huna ki te wai o Pera
Te karinga i te tahu a Tirangi e tu
Ko Whauru tu whare te utu."

In his ethnographical notes, Mr White terms the pu torino a pu hoho, possibly a northern name. The following are his remarks concerning this instrument; it is apparent that hoho is a sound word, as also is whio:—

The pu hoho was made of matai and in the same manner as the whio, the piece of wood being split, each half carefully hollowed from end to end, then the two pieces were carefully lashed together with aka kiekie* But this instrument was made so as to be wide in the middle and narrow at the two ends. The hole in the middle was also made larger than that at the end. The operator blew into the hole at the end which was so made as to cause a hoho sound [hence apparently the name the pu hoho]. The wide opening in the middle of the pu was kept uppermost.

This kind of flute was not played in the village, or where people were assembled, but at some distance away. It was not so effective in attracting women as the whio. Sometimes women would be charmed by it, and sometimes not. It depended on the player. It would occasionally happen that an adept would so play this flute as to make the sounds resemble the wording of a song, and in such a case the playing was admired by women.

The following song is a good one for the pu hoho

"E uru, e uru te kura rangi
E uru ki Wharau-rangi . . e
Taria ahau e patu
Kia taria ake te hau taua i a Maru ra . . e
Ka patu ai i au e te tu
Kia oti to koikoi aho rua
Kia oti to koikoi aho rua
Ka tahuti ake, kei te kiokio au
Kaore i te kiokio
Kei Te Horo taku kainga
E whakamau atu ana ki te huka o te tai
E-i, te tu."

page 224

Fig. 57 Five Pu Torino in Auckland Museum. Seep. 229

Fig. 58 A. No. 1921 in Dominion Museum. B. A specimen in the New Plymouth Museum. C. Side view of B. See p. 230 W. R. Reynolds, Photo

Fig. 59 Five Pu Torino in Various Collections. See p. 231.

page 225

Fig. 60 Five Pu Torino and a Shell Trumpet. British Museum. See p. 231 R. B. Fleming, Photo

Reverse View of Instruments shown in Fig. 60

page 226

Fig. 61 A, B, C. A Pu Torino of superior make and finish in the Lord St. Oswald Collection, Dominion Museum. D. A Double Pu Torino in the same collection. E. A Double Pu Torino in the British Museum. From the Edge-Partington Album. Sketch by Miss E. Richardson. See p. 232 Photos by H. Hamilton.

page 227

Fig. 62 A and B. The Pu Torino as it appears in house carvings. See also Fig. 62c and p. 233.

page 228
Fig. 62c. The Pu Torino as it appears in a House Carving. See p. 233

Fig. 62c. The Pu Torino as it appears in a House Carving. See p. 233

Fig. 63 Two Wooden Flutes in the Dominion Museum. The larger specimen has one end plugged. See p. 235 J. McDonald Photo

Fig. 63 Two Wooden Flutes in the Dominion Museum. The larger specimen has one end plugged. See p. 235 J. McDonald Photo

The natives of the Waiapu district also stated that words were spoken or breathed into this instrument, and such are said to have been understood at a considerable distance. The instrument was blown from the end and fingers placed on the central aperture. A kind of booming sound was produced by experts and Iehu Nukunuku says that it sounded like water being poured from a gourd vessel. One hand was held at the outer end, which was perforated. (Old specimens are seen that are not so perforated at the outer end).

At p. 165 of Sir G. Grey's work, Nga Moteatea, is given one of the songs that were sung to the playing of the pu torino.

page 229

Fig. 64 Two Bone Koauau or Flutes. See p. 235 H. Hamilton, Photo

Five specimens of pu torino in the Auckland Museum are shown in Fig. 57 (p. 224), the series showing a considerable range in size. A rauru style of carving appears on the longest specimen, while the third shows some well executed designs that are unusual in connection with these instruments. The two shortest specimens appear to be uncarved. It will be observed that the form of the central orifice differs considerably, ranging from the circular one seen in Fig. 55 to a rectangular one in Fig. 52. As a rule, however, they are of ovoid form. See p. 224.

page 230

Some good specimens of the pu torino have been preserved in our museums, and others are known in British and foreign collections. No. 1921 in the Dominion Museum is a good old specimen, though five of the series of lashings have come adrift and been lost, the only ones still in position are at the extreme ends of the instrument. See Fig. 58. These lashings are composed of some form of aka that has apparently been split in order to render it more pliable, and the material is only about one sixteenth of an inch in width. Aka is a term applied to stems of climbing plants, aerial rootlets and small subterranean roots, and not a specific term for any one species. See p. 224.

No. 1921 is nineteen inches in length and 1¾ in. wide at its widest part which is not in the middle but at the upper part of the carved head. Its thickness in the middle, not including the prominent carving, is 1¼ in. The mouthpiece shows an oval aperture ⅞ in. by ⅝ in. The other end tapers much more, and the almost pointed end shows no aperture, but is quite solid. The two end lashings are countersunk, but not so those that have originally confined the intermediate parts. There is no sign of any putohe or tonsil in the interior, and the wood is apparently that of the matai (Podocarpus spicatus). Judging from the irregular aspect of the joining of the two component parts, the original line of cleavage must have been retained uninterfered with, in order to have a close join. The other two specimens in the case show the same peculiarity. The ornamentation of No. 1921 consists of three grotesque heads carved in relief, the mouth of the central one being the hole or stop in the middle of the instrument. This and the small head at the outer and smaller end of the fife are of the usual Maori type, but that at the mouthpiece is of different form. It is in very high relief, so much so that the lower part of the face, which may be described as 'all mouth,' projects outwards like a proboscis. The two larger heads have eyes of Haliotis iris shell fixed in the same manner as those of a heitiki, diminutive serrated rings of shell countersunk in circular grooves.

In B and C of Fig. 58 (p. 224), we have two views of a good specimen of our flageolet that is in the New Plymouth Museum. It is 21⅓ inches in length. The side view C shows the remarkable aspect of the carved head at the mouthpiece, the lower part of which projects outward, and has been carved in the round.

Another specimen in the Dominion Museum is nineteen inches long and 1⅞ in. wide at its widest part. It much resembles No. 1921 in form and adornment at the ends, but has no carved head in the middle, it being replaced with a carved design of curious form, which surrounds the circular hole on three sides. Only the end page 231lashings are retained, three other intermediate ones have become detached. The mouthpiece resembles that of 1921, and no aperture appears at the small end of the instrument.

No. 573 in the Dominion Museum is a modern specimen, a thick, heavy, clumsy article that has been dressed apparently with a wood rasp and bound with twine. It is shown in Fig. 59 (p. 224). No. 2831 is also in the Dominion Museum.

The name porutu, often applied to these native instruments, is not, so far as I am aware, a Maori word, but their rendering of our word flute. Here, however, Williams' Maori Dictionary does not agree with me.

Hari Wahanui, of Waikato, states that this flageolet like instrument is always termed a pu torino among his people, and that it was blown from the end, with the fingers on the central aperture. The sound may thus be altered, but the instrument has no real scale of notes. It has no small stops such as those of the koauau and nguru.

A British Museum Handbook of 1910 gives illustrations of four torino, one of which is the famous double one. The other three all show decorative carved designs, and in no case is the lashing continuous, as seen in the long trumpets, but is arranged in bands, with unlashed spaces between. There are some fine old specimens of this instrument in the Copenhagen Museum, photographs of which were courteously forwarded by the officers of that institution to the Dominion Museum through Mr. Hansen. These are shown in Fig. 55 (p. 220). These are good specimens, and the one to the right shows an unusual style of carving that is evidently well executed. It seems to have but one band of lashing, a peculiarity that also marks the specimen on the left; presumably one other lashing at least has disappeared. The two objects on the left of the pu torino are short weapons used with one hand.

In Fig. 60 are shown five specimens of the pu torino that are in the British Museum. With them appears a shell trumpet having an unusually long mouthpiece. A considerable diversity of form is noted in these flageolets. The specimen on the right is remarkable for its attached bunches of white dog's hair, and the peculiar designs carved on its upper part in the front view and in the middle in the reverse. The binding cord is of laid twine. Length of the instrument 17¼ inches. The longest specimen is 18½ inches in length and is highly ornate with its profusion of carving. The next is 14¼ inches long, the next 11½, and the shortest one 9¼ inches. The latter is remarkable for having a small circular hole in the back. The running form of lashing shown in the first mentioned is an unusual occurrence. See p. 225.

page 232

In the British Museum is an old and fine specimen of a double pu torino, and a good cast of it is in the Dominion Museum. See Fig. 61E. This instrument is eighteen inches in length, and 2½ in. wide across the double central part. The double tube aspect is eight inches in length, the two ends being in one piece. The mouthpiece at the end is smaller than is usual, apparently, being but little over half an inch. The two stops in the middle are ⅝ of an inch wide, each being the mouth of a grotesquely carved human head, and these carved heads face different ways. The eyes of these heads are represented by small discs of Haliotis shell pierced in the centre for fitting over small protuberances of the wood. Two of the original lashings seem to be still in position; others are perhaps dubious, but I have not seen the original. On the upper side, near the mouthpiece, is a grotesque head, carved in high relief, with protruding tongue and paua shell eyes. The design carved on the other end represents half a grotesque face. There is apparently no orifice at this small end in the original. See p. 226.

Another double pu torino is in the Lord St. Oswald Collection in the Dominion Museum. See Fig. 61D (p. 226). This specimen is in an unfinished state, the carved designs have been merely roughed out, and no proper lashing has been attached. The instrument is 22¾ in. in length and nearly 3 in. in width in the middle, across the two stops. These stops are of oval form and are unusually small, 5-8 of an inch by 7-16. I am doubtful about this being a stone tool artifact, the clean cut facets of the unfinished carved heads bear the appearance of steel-tool work, but if obtained by Captain Cook it should be above suspicion.

In Fig. 61 A.B.C. (p. 226) we have another torino of the St. Oswald Collection, and a much finer specimen, an instrument of fine finish and assuredly old. It is 20¾ in. in length and 2 in. in width across the middle. The sounding aperture at the end is ovoid in form and ¾ in. by ⅝ in. The central aperture, which is the widely distended mouth of the grotesque figure, is slightly over one inch in width. There is a very small aperture at what we will call the distal end of the instrument. As in other cases the join is represented by the natural line of cleavage when the block of wood was split. At some parts it is difficult to detect the join, so close is it. Six bands of original lashings are still in position, while two others have disappeared, one from the outer extremity of the instrument, the other from the space between the body of the torino and the outward curved body of the central grotesque figure. The lashing material is composed of extremely small strips of some form of aka, possibly mangemange (Lygodium articulatum) about 1-32 of an inch in page 233width. These lashings are very neatly laid and finished off, a task in which the neolithic Maori excelled. A grotesque carved head in relief near the outer end is an unusual feature of the under side of the instrument. The central carved figure is also in relief, very much so as far as the actual body is concerned, inasmuch as it is detached from the body of the instrument, carved in the round. The side view shows this peculiarity. The hands show the usual complement of three fingers seen in old carvings. The carved head at the proximal end of the instrument is a very peculiar form. The lower part of the face and mouth are in high relief with a vengeance, for they project outward or upward nearly 1¼ inches. The abnormally long, outthrust tongue projects still further. This tongue curves downward then inward, and is braced, as it were, by means of what resembles a beaked head emerging from the body of the instrument. The carver of this grotesque head devoted so much attention to the lower part of the face that he seems to have forgotten to represent the eyes. This instrument has been very carefully fashioned, and is a fine old specimen, showing the appearance of age.

One occasionally observes the pu torino carved on house timbers in Maoriland, that is to say, on those timbers that have been so carved as to represent grotesque human figures, which figures were named for tribal ancestors. These musical ancestors are shown as sounding the instruments, or as holding them in position for playing. Carvers do not seem to so represent other instruments, such as the koauau and nguru, or the trumpets. Three of such flageolet playing experts are shown in Fig. 62. See pp. 227 and 228.

In A the performer is apparently about to commence, and this figure also shows the peculiar carved design termed the double manaia, in which two weird creatures appear, each having its beak in contact with an ear, or the head, of the central human figure. It will be noted that the three fingered hands also appear in this figure. This carving is in the Auckland Museum, where it was photographed by Mr. W. R. Reynolds.

B is a copy of a photograph in the Dominion Museum collection, but no data is available as to the whereabouts of the carving. In this case the player is, in the most ungallant manner, standing on the head of a fair lady whose lower parts seem to be crumpling under his weight, and whose features wear a harassed expression. The wall spaces between these carved slabs are covered with culms of toetoe (Arundo conspicua) arranged vertically.

C shows a house interior at Rotorua, the wall posts of which are of a generous width. In this case the performer seems to be gripping the end of the instrument in his mouth instead of holding it in his page 234hands. Such little eccentricities are of common occurrence in Maori carved work.

In Vol. 26 of the Transactions of the N.Z. Institute, Sir. W. Buller describes a flute in the collection of the late Dr. Shortland:—"It is, so far as I can judge, made out of a very straight branch of tupakihi (Syn. tutu. Coriaria ruscifolia), the pith of which has been removed to form the hollow, the opening at the top being ingeniously closed by letting in a piece of soft wood. It is of the colour of well seasoned oak, and measures 22.5 inches in length, with a maximum width of 1.5 inches. It is elaborately carved in its entire length. At the top there is a double-faced Maori head with well marked tiwhana (tattoo), and with a pair of paua shell eyes so placed as to suit either face. From the open mouth of this uncouth head proceeds the stem of the flute, artistically bounded by a festooned edging in relief, intended, no doubt, to represent the human lips. Half way down, or about the middle of the flute, there is another precisely similar carving in relief, and another again at the bottom of the instrument, but the last has elevated ears (as if to catch the strains of music), and the mouth is open, the orifice of the flute representing the throat. The entire outer surface of the flute between the heads I have described is very elaborately carved in the neat and regular whakarauponga pattern. The blowing orifice or mouth of the flute, is placed in a plain circle just below the lips of the top figure. The three other apertures are placed near the bottom of the instrument, the first being just six inches from its extremity, and the two others at distances of 2 inches and 1.5 inches apart respectively. It produces a rich note like that of our own flutes, and not like the shrill penny whistle piping of the ordinary Maori koauau…. the cavity, due apparently to the natural hollowness of the wood when deprived of the pith, is exactly three quarters of an inch in diameter. As already explained, this is hermetically closed at the top; but at the bottom of the instrument there is an artificial constriction, about two inches up, with an orifice in the centre, exactly of the size of the note holes, or 3-16 in. in diameter. This is very curious and suggestive, reminding one of the peculiar tonsil-like contrivance of the pu kaea."

The above is an uncommon form. In length it equals a pu torino, but its shape is widely different. The situation of the mouthpiece is seemingly at the side, hence it resembles the true flute. It has three stops, like a koauau, and hence cannot be called a torino. We know of no specific name for it save Mr. White's name of rehu; Captain G. Mair mentions them and states that they were made of young wood of the kaiwhiria (Hedycaria arborea) and were 18 in. to 2 ft. in length. His sketch of one shows an instrument with three stops, page 235and having parallel sides. An apparently modern specimen in the Dominion Museum (No. 197), is 14¼ in. long and ⅞ in. thick, the hollow being ½ in. to ⅝ in. in diameter. One end is open, the other plugged up. See Fig. 63 (p. 228). Situated 1¼ in. from this plugged end is a round hole 5-16 in. in diameter, which is presumably the mouthpiece. It is adorned with the kauwae pattern of tattoo somewhat indifferently executed. Near the open end are three smaller holes, on the same side and in line with the larger hole. One is 2⅛ in. from the open end of the instrument, the next is 1 in. from the first, while No. 3 is 1⅛ in. from the second. The wood is of a very light colour, and is probably neinei (Dracophyllum latifolium). The writer is not satisfied about this European like instrument being an old Maori form, there is an element of doubt about it, whereas in the case of the pu torino, koauau, nguru, pu kaea, pu tatara, and pakuru we have evidence of ancient usage, as well as specimens in various museums that were obtained here in the 18th and early in the 19th centuries.

No. 414 in the Museum is 8¾ in. long, open at both ends, having three stops. On observing that it is a length of bamboo or some foreign cane, one's interest in it ceases.

The tuteure, according to Tuta Nihoniho, was some form of flute or whistle shorter than a pu torino but longer than the koauau. The song for the tuteure is:—

"Tuteure, tuteure, tumataroa, tumataroa
Totoe . . e totoe . . e totoe . . e."

* Aka kiekie=aerial roots of Freycinetia Banksii.