Ethnology of Manihiki and Rakahanga
Clothing and Adornment
Clothing and Adornment
Clothing was further developed than in Tongareva. The Tongarevan perineal band of coconut stipule (kaka), which was the general dress of the men, was not used in Rakahanga. A more elaborate maro of fine plaiting was used instead. Kilts, capes, and poncho-like tiputa were also made. No form of weaving was known, and the craft by which the garments were made was plaiting. European textiles have completely displaced the old forms of clothing, but kilts and ponchos are sometimes plaited for festival dances and for presentation to visitors. Thus I was agreeably surprised on calling at Manihiki after our sojourn in Rakahanga to find that the people had of their own volition plaited kilts and ponchos for me as examples of their old-time garments. Though highly ornate, they gave some idea of the craft employed. Tupou-rahi also possessed a fairly old plaited maro.
Two plants which enter largely into Polynesian clothing, the paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera) and the ti (Cordyline terminalis), were absent from the two atolls as from Tongareva. Their absence precluded the manufacture of bark cloth (tapa) and ti leaf kilts. For clothing material, the plants available were the coconut and hala (Pandanus). It is curious that in Tongareva the people selected the coconut palm and used the stipule for the men's maro and the leaflets for the women's kilts and capes. In Rakahanga, owing perhaps to the greater plaiting dexterity of the people, the material selected was lauhala (Pandanus leaf). The leaves of the young hala (puwhara) entered into all the articles made, and the coconut was disregarded except to provide fiber for a belt. The upper layer of the lauhala was also split off, and the thin material (papa) was used for decorative purposes. The bast of the tou (Cordia subcordata) was soaked in sea water and used to provide fringes for the garments. A reddish-brown dye was obtained from the nenu (Morinda citrifolia), but now imported trades dyes have taken its place.
Women's garments enumerated were the double apron and kilt (tipora), the cape (pikipiki), and the poncho (tiputa).
1. The double apron form of tipora consisted of two rectangular pieces (tautape) of plaited lauhala. These were used in conjunction with a sennit belt (tukaha: tu, belt; kaha, sennit braid). Whether the tukaha was a particular form of belt like the many-stranded tu belts of New Zealand or merely a length of sennit braid was not made clear. page 135 The two tautape were of different sizes, the longer one being slung over the belt in front to conceal the genitals, and the smaller one being hung over the back. The two tautape, with the sennit belt, constitute the tipora; but sometimes the term tautape is loosely applied to the whole combination.
2. The kilt form of tipora (fig. 47) consisted of a long tautape (tautape roa) piece of plaiting which completely encircled the waist and thus acted as a narrow kilt. Some confusion existed between different informants, one maintaining that the narrow kilt with a hanging fringe was termed a mahere, and another that the mahere was the short perineal band. The kilt in plate 6, B, consists of a long, narrow band plaited in check with overlaid wefts of the thin papa material dyed red. The separate fringe of dyed tou bast, which is attached in a continuous piece to the upper and lower borders and both ends, is described in figure 47. The two-cord attachment to fix bast elements in a short fringe is exactly similar to the technique used with longer strips to make kilts in the Cook Islands (27, p. 88) and Samoa (28, p. 254). The method of sewing the lauhala strips to the plaited band is modern and is due to the introduction of needles and cotton thread. It is probable that in the original garments the wide lauhala strips were split at one end into wefts, which were plaited to form the band to keep the hanging lauhala strips together.
3. The cape (pikipiki) was also plaited with lauhala wefts, but the exact technique has been forgotten, as capes have long been out of use. Capes were worn over the shoulders and tied (ruruku) in front at the neck. They were stated to be women's garments, but were also worn ceremonially by men when going to the religious inclosures, or maraes.
Figure 47. Kilt and fringe technique. a, strip of tou bast (3) about 3 inches long, dyed red, doubled under two cords (1, 2) composed of strips of young coconut leaflets boiled and bleached white; doubling of strip of bast in middle forms far limb (4) and near limb (5). b, both bast limbs (4, 5) brought over two cords (1, 2) and passed down between them. c, strips of bast added successively to right and kept close together so that cords (1, 2) hidden by turns of the bast; in type kilt, fringe is 86 inches long. d, strips of papa lauhala (6) attached to inner side of lower edge of plaited band (7); strips range in width from 2.5 inches to 3 inches and are 28 inches long; strips doubled to half their length and the two ends sewn together with cotton thread to plaited band; two-ply twisted cords of white coconut leaflet used for decorative effect; four cords (8) bunched together are run along just above edge of plaited band on outer side; bast fringe (3) placed in position with its supporting cords (1) laid against edge of band (7) and just below decorative cords (8); cords and fringe attached to plaited band by single continuous thread of white coconut leaflet; stitch (9) passed through plaiting and around cords (8) from below upwards on outer side; after passing through plaiting above decorative cords, thread descends obliquely to right on back, passes under fringe cord (1) and makes stitch (10) over it to fix it to band; stitch around decorative cords (9) made and again thread passes to right on back to appear under fringe cord; in this way, by stitches 0.3 inch apart, both cords and fringe attached along all four edges of plaited band.
4. The poncho (tiputa) was plaited in check with prepared lauhala. (See pl. 6, A). A hole was left for the head so that the garment hung down in front and behind to the thighs or knees. The square-cut hole was decorated by a tou bast fringe made with the two-cord attachment as in the kilt fringe. The fringe was attached to the edge of the plaiting by a continuous colored bast thread which passed spirally around the fringe cord and through the edge of the plaiting. Another fringe was attached to the outer edges of the plaiting. This was composed of single strands of colored bast which were held down over the middle by two colored bast threads which passed along the edge in the plaiting strokes. The ends of the colored strands on the plaiting side were then turned outward.
The men's garments consisted of two forms of perineal band. The perineal band is known generally as a maro, but the shorter form received the specific name mahere and the longer one, taoa.
1. The short band (mahere) was plaited in lauhala. It was 1.5 arm spans (maro) in length and 1 finger span (ngahonu) in width. The band was passed between the legs and the front and back ends were held in position by a sennit belt (tukaha), the ends falling over it. (Ka huru mai i mua, ka huru mai i muri.) If the band was long enough, it was passed around the waist after passing between the legs.
2. The long band (taoa) was from 4 to 7 yards long and about 2 finger spans wide. (See fig. 48.) The specimen of taoa owned by Tupou-rahi was made of fine plaiting with 10 wefts to the inch. Overlaid plaiting in thin papa material stained with native nenu dye was used for decorative effect. Twill strokes were used to relieve the ordinary check plait, and a colored fringe of tou bast was attached at either end.
The plaited taoa was a well-made garment and a marked advance over the coconut stipule maro of Tongareva. Being long, it was wound around the waist besides being passed back between the limbs. The long taoa with colored wefts and end fringes was used by people of higher status on festive or ceremonial occasions, whereas the short mahere was used as ordinary clothing.
Headdress. Pieces of net (kupenga) were worn around the head like turbans by men on particular occasions such as consulting the gods.
Eye shades (taumata) have been described. (See p. 125.)
Neck ornaments (takawe) made of coconut leaf and hala were worn around the neck by the whakamaru chiefs when about to consult the gods. Their use inspired dread among the people, from association with this function.
It is unfortunate that no accounts of the first contacts of European voyagers with the atolls of Manihiki and Rakahanga seem to be available. The present population has had little handed down regarding the ornaments and personal decoration of early times.page 137
Ribbons consisting of the thin white material peeled off from the tua surface of the closed young coconut leaves of the growing center (rito) were used. They were tied together in long thin streamers and stuck in the hair by women on festive occasions. The material (kamuka) corresponds in form and use to the revareva of Rarotonga.
Figure 48. Long perineal band (taoa): from left end (1) to middle (4), length is 11 feet 2.5 inches, total length is 22 feet 5 inches; width (patapata) at ends, 14.5 inches, and in middle, 10.5 inches; end from points 1 to 2, 33.5 inches long, maintains width of 14.5 inches; this part colored with overlaid wefts and at intervals of about 8 inches, transverse rows (5) of twilled-threes relieve check; length between points 2 and 3, 45.5 inches, and width gradually diminishes from 14.5 inches on left to 10.5 inches on right; narrow parts (6, 6) at either edge carry on colored overlaid plaiting, but middle part (7) is plain white check plaiting relieved by four longitudinal rows of twilled-twos; beyond ends of colored strip (6, 6), middle part of band (8) plain; right half of band repetition of left half; fringe (9) of tou bast dyed with nenu, 4 inches deep; extends across ends, continued for 3 inches along sides; narrow strip (peipei) (10) consists of stained papa material, doubled and split on free edges to within 0.15 inch of doubled edge; this laid on edge of plaiting with split parts directed outward; as each side weft of plaiting reaches edge margin, turned in over split portion of peipei and so fixes it in position as part of fringe; strips of tou bast also added (whakaumu) to split portions of peipei and fixed by plaiting edge; bast strips caught by middle, and end which projects in over plaiting turned out to join other limb in fringe; when peipei split portions and bast have been fixed by plaiting, unsplit portion which lies on plaiting folded outward and thus covers split parts and makes neater finish; in finishing off edges, beyond peipei (10), plain wefts turned back in usual finishing edge technique observed in band finish of two-cornered satchels; in wefts overlaid with colored papa, colored material turned back but plain weft beneath left out and subsequently cut off; in narrow colored strips (6, 6) check stroke used throughout; edges of plain part (8) turned in finishing technique on under surface making narrow finishing strip about 0.2 inch deep; wefts cut off.
Neck ornaments (takawe). A form of ornament plaited from coconut leaf or lauhala was worn around the neck (hei ki te kaki) by the whakamaru. The appearance of these ornaments was regarded with a certain amount of fear by the public, as it was known that the wearer was about to consult his god.
Breast ornament (fig. 49). Edge-Partington (6, series 1, p. 62, no. 5) figures a breast ornament and describes it as, “Breast ornament of pearl shell in shape of fish.” The ornament is 7 inches long, much larger than the shank of an ordinary bonito hook. Such ornaments were not mentioned page 138 to me. The addition of two short strings of beads attached at one end to a hole in the shell resembles the post-European technique of Melanesia, to which area the ornament may belong.
Tattooing was not indulged in until after European contact.