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Ethnology of Manihiki and Rakahanga


page 102


Plaiting is woman's craft. It provides the technique by which many articles required in domestic life are made. The men are also skillful with their fingers and make thatch sheets and baskets that may be immediately required, but the production of plaited articles is essentially woman's work. The scope of the craft was wide when no form of weaving was in use. Certain articles of clothing were originally provided by plaiting. The advent of Western culture has affected the form of clothing, but all other plaited articles are as much in use today as they were in pre-European times. Plaiting has thus always been a live craft. It has recently been developed further by the making of more elaborate mats and satchels in lauhala (Pandanus leaf) and new types of fans and hats in prepared coconut leaf. The women of Manihiki and Rakahanga have established a wide reputation as skilled plaiters and far surpass their neighbors of Tongareva. The materials used, coconut leaf or lauhala, influence technique.