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Samoan Material Culture



The terminology used here is the same as that in the work on the Cook Islands (39, pp. 104, 105) with slight additions.

Check: each weft passes alternately over and under each consecutive crossing weft.

Decoration: the addition of elements for the purpose of ornament; a, ap-page 166plied, where the elements are not essential to the construction; b, structural, where the elements form an integral part of what they adorn.

Foundation wefts: a structural weft that is essential to the construction.

Overlaid plaiting: wefts not essential to the construction that are laid on the foundation wefts and are plaited with them to form applied decoration.

Shed: the space formed by the separation of the two series of alternate dextral wefts for the reception of a sinistral weft, or two series of sinistrals to receive a dextral.

Stroke: the passing of a weft over or under one or more crossing wefts to produce the pattern and technique of the plait as in check or twill.

Figure 75.—Working edge, check plaiting:

Figure 75.—Working edge, check plaiting:

a, the dextrals 1 to 8 are termed working dextrals. Of these, the alternate series (1, 3, 5, and 7) have been turned back and the other alternate series (2, 4, 6, and 8), left down. This forms a shed for the next sinistral (3'). b, The next sinistral (3') is placed in position. The movement will be completed by straightening out the turned back series over the sinistral and picking up the others; c, the movement is commenced from the top by straightening out (1), picking up (2) and so alternately until the series (1, 3, 5, and 7) have been straightened out over the sinistral (3') and the series (2, 4, 6, and 8) picked up from beyond the edge of the sinistral. The check technique has thus been carried out and several strokes made by one continued movement. At the same time a shed has been formed for the next sinistral (4'). d, In the next movement, the dextral (2) is replaced and the weft next to it (3) is picked up, and so down the series. It is thus seen that the top weft of the last working series (1) has been dropped out but as the working series has to be kept up to the working number of eight, the next dextral weft below (9) has to be picked up to form the raised series (3, 5, 7, and 9). In this way the diagonal working edge keeps the plaited section level as it moves to the right by dropping the top dextral and picking up a new dextral from below. The following terms may now be understood.

Twill: each weft passes over and under more than one crossing weft. In twilled twos, it passes over and under two crossing wefts; in twilled threes, over and under three crossing wefts. Combinations may be used with a check, as three and ones, or with another twill, as threes and twos.

Weft: a technical factor in plaiting. A weft may consist of a single strip of material or more than one strip as in overlaid plaiting or in narrowing where two wefts are brought together.

Double weft: the term "double weft" is used where two separate weft strips are placed together for a special purpose in technique but they are treated as a single factor in the plaiting strokes and movements.

page 167

Dextral and sinistral wefts: the confusion between using the terms warp and weft which belong to weaving is obviated by terming the strips which lean towards the right, dextral wefts, and those towards the left, sinistral wefts. When a weft is turned in the opposite direction, as in defining the edge of the fabric, it is renamed from the direction in which it functions. If distinction is required, it may be termed an acting dextral or sinistral as it may be.

In actual plaiting, single strokes in check or twill are not made except in special circumstances. To facilitate the work, as many dextral wefts as can be conveniently handled are treated by separating them into two alternating series to form a shed into which the appropriate sinistral is placed. (See fig. 75.)

Figure 76.—Plaiting sections. For ease of description the following terms will be used:

Figure 76.—Plaiting sections. For ease of description the following terms will be used:

The bottom or near edge of the first or commencing section is the commencing edge; the far edge of the last completed section (2) is the plaiting edge, as the next section has to follow along it; the far edge of the last section of all is the finishing edge, as it has to have a special finishing technique; the section being plaited is the working section; its right oblique edge is the working edge, composed of a number of working dextrals; the left and right edges are obvious.

Movement: a technical movement in plaiting consists in placing a sinistral weft in the shed provided by a previous movement, lowering and raising the two series of working dextrals to complete the plaiting strokes and, as a result, prepare the shed for the next sinistral.

As used here, the definition differs in the order of the two parts of the completed movement to that enunciated in my work on the Cook Islands (39. p. 105).

Working dextrals: the dextral wefts raised and lowered at the working edge to provide a shed for the sinistral weft.

Working edge: the oblique edge formed by a sinistral weft and the working dextrals. The working edge varies in length according to the number it working dextrals being used.

The plaiting of a deep surface is therefore carried out in a series of sections. The width of the section is the full width of the article being made, as page 168it commences at the left edge and working to the right finishes at the right edge. The depth of each section is determined by the number and width of the working dextrals used at the working edge for the same number of working dextrals is maintained throughout for that section. The left and right edges are built up with each section. (See fig. 76.)

The distinction between plaiting and weaving is now more obvious. The dextral wefts in plaiting correspond in function to the warps in weaving for they are the elements that are separated into two series to provide a shed for the sinistral weft in plaiting and the weft in weaving. In weaving, all the warps along the commencing elge would be separated to form a shed extending for the whole width of the fabric, whereas in figure 76 it is only the relatively small number of working dextrals at the short oblique working edge that do this in plaiting. This goes back to the fundamental arrangement of the elements at the commencing edge.