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The Coming of the Maori

12 — Personal Decoration and Ornaments

page 283

Personal Decoration and Ornaments

The One Form of Decoration which Prevailed Through-Out Polynesia was the wreath of flowers and sweet-scented leaves. In New Zealand, a shift in custom took place whereby wreaths of green leaves, particularly kawakawa leaves (pare kawakawa) were worn at funerals as a sign of mourning for the dead. The custom still prevails but women usually make the wreaths out of any convenient plant and men save themselves exertion by wearing a sprig of green leaves in their hat bands. As a child, I once returned home wearing a flower wreath that my English playmates had assisted in making. My satisfaction was shattered by my mother's rebuke, "Whom do you want to die?" Thus in New Zealand, the dead deprived the living of the pleasure of wearing wreaths on joyous occasions.

Ornaments were made of wood, seeds, berries, shell, bone, and stone but the most prized material throughout Polynesia was the teeth of the sperm whale popularly referred to as whale ivory. In some parts, the whole tooth was simply perforated at the root to wear as a breast ornament but more generally it was shaped into various forms. New Zealand did not use seeds but, in addition to other materials, it had the most valuable material of all in nephrite or greenstone. In all Polynesia, there is nothing to equal the Maori ornaments made of nephrite. In ornaments, as in weapons, the differences in form produced by the various island groups indicate the great local development that took place.


Each island group in Polynesia, with the exception of some atolls, developed a form of head-dress in which feathers formed the main decoration. The Maori tradition of the casting away of the kura head-dress of Tauninihi indicates that some form was brought from central Polynesia on one of the canoes of the Fleet. In spite of the disappointment page 284on finding that the red in the pohutukawa trees was formed by flowers which soon crumbled, it is curious that the manufacture of feather head-dresses was not continued after the voyagers came into contact with the native parrot, the red feathers of which were used for other decorative purposes. But though the kura head-dress denoting chieftainship was apparently abandoned, the mourning wreaths of green leaves developed into a more lasting form in the black wreath of dyed rushes which was worn by widows during their prolonged period of mourning. A widow's cap termed potae taua was also developed and I have a faint recollection of a widow wearing one decorated with thin-leaved seaweed, dried and dyed black. An elaborate specimen figured by Hamilton (46, p. 297) was made of dressed flax and decorated with the black feathers and the beaks of the huia. Cook (25, vol. 2, p. 388) saw a form of head-dress in Queen Charlotte Sound which he described as follows:

"The women in these canoes, and some of the men, had a head-dress which we had not before seen. It consisted of a bunch of black feathers, made up in a round form, and tied upon the top of the head, which it entirely covered, and made it twice as high, to appearance, as it was in reality."

Cook subsequently found that these people had been engaged in a recent battle in which many had been killed. It is thus probable that the black feather head-dresses were a form of mourning cap, worn by all the women and some of the men because of the multiple casualties.

Hair Ornaments

The Maori followed the Polynesian custom of the men wearing their hair long and tying it in a large topknot. Feathers were stuck into the topknot by their quills, the tail feathers of the huia, black with white tips, being regarded as the most valuable. Feathers of the albatross (toroa), longtailed cuckoo (koekoea), and heron (kotuku) were also valued.

Combs (heru) were also stuck in the hair for decoration. Small combs (heru mapara) were made of separate wooden teeth lashed together with flax fibre (Fig. 79a).A more valuable comb was made of whalebone (heru iwi) in one piece with a small human head carved on one side (Fig. 79b).Like other valuable ornaments, the whalebone comb was handed on in succession and a tradition states that the well-known ancestor, Ruatapu, was severely reprimanded by his father for wearing the family whalebone comb which was reserved for his elder brother. A detailed Rarotongan version of the Ruatapu story does not mention any whalebone comb and it is not present in central Polynesia where the story was laid. The form is peculiar to New Zealand and as it was not present in the Chatham Islands, it was probably a late development in New page 285Zealand. Though the Maori story of its presence in the Hawaiki of Ruatapu is an interpolation, the story shows the great value attached to whalebone combs as family heirlooms.

Fig. 79. Combs.a, wooden, after Hamilton (46, pl. 52); b, whalebone (Oldman coll., no. 39).

Fig. 79. Combs.
a, wooden, after Hamilton (46, pl. 52); b, whalebone (Oldman coll., no. 39).

Feather Boxes

The storing of feathers for head decoration was provided for in different ways. The Marquesans used a length of bamboo as a case with a node at one end and a stopper for the open end. The Easter Islanders made a long pouch from the outer skin of a banana trunk. The Maori with their greater skill in carving made beautiful carved boxes with lids. Wooden receptacles share the canoe name of waka, and as huia feathers were kept in the boxes, they were termed waka huia. However, other valuables such as jade ornaments were also kept in the boxes. The waka huia are among the best specimens of Maori carving (Pl. XX).

Ear Ornaments

In the Society and Cook Islands, the ears were pierced for wearing ornaments and the Maori ancestors brought the custom with them. Pendants were made of shell, teeth, bone and stone and the Maori developed a greater variety of ornaments than in any part of Polynesia. The discovery of nephrite helped materially to increase the variety. The ear pendants were drilled with a hole for suspension. Natural objects which required merely the addition of a hole were sharks' teeth. In the South Island, triangular teeth were used; but in the North Island, the double-fanged teeth of the mako shark were favoured. Perforated human teeth have been found that were used either as ear pendants or necklaces.

Greenstone pendants were made in a variety of shapes (Fig. 80) and each form received a specific name. The straight ear drops (a) were page 286termed kuru, and pieces with a bend at the lower end (b) were named kapeu. More elaborate forms were shaped like the parrot ring (poria) through which the foot of a tame parrot was drawn, and others were shaped like a conventional hook (matau). The parrot-ring pendant (c) was also made of bone and the larger hook ornaments (d) were worn on the breast. A curious form was the koropepe with a small head and a spiral body and tail (e). Though a similar form occurs in New Guinea,
Fig. 80. Jade ear ornaments.a, kuru; b, kapeu; c, poria; d, matau (Oldman coll., no. 326); e, koropepe (Auckland Mus.); f, pekapeka, after Skinner (74, fig. 41); g, marakihau, after Skinner (74, fig. 43).

Fig. 80. Jade ear ornaments.
a, kuru; b, kapeu; c, poria; d, matau (Oldman coll., no. 326); e, koropepe (Auckland Mus.); f, pekapeka, after Skinner (74, fig. 41); g, marakihau, after Skinner (74, fig. 43).

it is probable that the Maori form has been developed locally from a one-piece bone hook of circular form. The shank knob supplied the basis for a head and the continuation of the incurved point into a spiral could have readily occurred to artists who were accustomed to using the spiral motif in other forms of art. Authentic specimens are rare but the pattern has appealed strongly to European makers of greenstone "curios". Another valuable ear ornament in greenstone consists of two symmetrically placed human heads, in profile. Their general name is pekapeka, but in the page 287north Auckland area, they are termed kapakapa (f). They were worn as ear ornaments and must not be confused with the tiki breast ornament. An asymmetrical form with one human figure was termed marakihau (g).

Cloak Pins

Cloak pins (au rei) made of whale ivory, bone, and sometimes shell and nephrite are a local invention made to go with another invention, the flaxfibre cloak. They are curved, pointed at one end, and perforated at the other for the cord attachment to the cloak. In use, they pinned the side edges of the cloak together on the right side, but they usually figured as ornaments attached by the cord to the neck border of the cloak above the right shoulder. The name au retains the Polynesian term for the thatch needle and rei refers to the whale ivory from which some of them were made. However the full term au rei has come to be a general term for all ornaments of this form. Both the whale-ivory and greenstone pins were of social value, and the chiefly possessor of more than one grouped them together in a cluster so that they made a sound when the owner shrugged his shoulder to attract attention to them.

Breast Ornaments

An exhaustive study of Maori ornaments has been made by Skinner (74), the basis being the extensive collection in the University of Otago Museum. Much of the material was obtained from old village sites and thus vouches for the authenticity of the study material. In archaeological specimens it is sometimes difficult to decide as to whether the ornament was an ear pendant or a breast ornament. Small, light objects may be regarded as ear pendants, unless a necklace is indicated by a number being found close together. Weight may also help but we have no way of judging the strain to which the ears of the original owners were accustomed.

Skinner regards the greater number of Maori pendants as amulets worn to obtain magical benefit. He is probably correct, for many of the pendants figured by him are not very decorative in appearance. Some of the cruder specimens in the form of birds, fish, and hooks might well have been used by their owners to procure success in fowling, fishing, and other activities.

Breast Ornaments of Teeth

The teeth of sperm whales were used singly as breast ornaments in the Marquesas and Mangareva. This natural form was also used by the early settlers of New Zealand, as revealed by its presence with moa-hunter remains in Wairau (Fig. 81a)and also in the Chatham Islands. Copies in soapstone and bone have also been excavated in New Zealand.

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The rei puta (rei, whale ivory; puta, hole) was a valuable ornament made by cutting away a portion of the tooth to form a flat surface extending to the root end. Three holes usually were pierced at the root or upper end for attachment to a neck cord. The free lower end or crown formed a knob which was embellished by incising two oblique eyes on its upper part and, more rarely, adding a nose and mouth (Pig. 81b).The neck cord in most neck ornaments was fashioned into a loop at one end and a section of bird bone was attached to the other to act as a toggle to pass through the loop. Skinner (74, vol. 43, p. 114) has drawn attention to the
Fig. 81. Breast ornaments.a, whale tooth, after Duff (30, pl. VIIA); b, rei puta, after Skinner (74, fig. 117); c, "whale-tooth" pendant, after Duff (30, pl. IX, A); d, bone hook (Bishop Mus., C9146); e, Hawaiian lei palaoa (Bishop Mus., 4938); f, g, spool ornament, after Duff (30, pl. VIII, A, H).

Fig. 81. Breast ornaments.
a, whale tooth, after Duff (30, pl. VIIA); b, rei puta, after Skinner (74, fig. 117); c, "whale-tooth" pendant, after Duff (30, pl. IX, A); d, bone hook (Bishop Mus., C9146); e, Hawaiian lei palaoa (Bishop Mus., 4938); f, g, spool ornament, after Duff (30, pl. VIII, A, H).

resemblance of the rei puta to the pearl-shell shank of the Polynesian bonito hook, from which he thinks it is descended. However, as the rei putaform is not described for the Chatham Islands or moa-hunter deposits, it would have to be a late development from bonito hooks brought in by members of the Fleet, for the older stone shanks do not have the scooped-out flat surface to serve as a pattern for the rei puta. From illustrations, the rei puta appears to have been popular at the time of Cook's voyages.

Whale-tooth pendant is a term applied by Archey (6) to a curious ornament forming a conventional tooth with a thick rectangular root and a slender curved crown. The roots are pierced from side to side for suspen-page 289sion, with the concave curve of the crown to the front. Archey described a bracelet with the teeth made of whale ivory, but Duff (30, p. 14) described a number of necklaces from the Wairau finds in which one necklace contained 21 units in whale ivory while a number of others contained 70 units made of moa bone. Thus the term whale-ivory pendant is a misnomer, but Duff kept it for want of a better term (Fig. 81c). Skinner (74, vol. 43, p. 112) has shown its resemblance in form to the Hawaiian hooked whale-tooth pendant (lei niho palaoa) and a specimen he sent to the Bishop Museum (No. C. 9146) is compared in Figure 81dto one of the smaller Hawaiian ornaments (Fig. 81e).The possibility that the idea of the curved crown in both the New Zealand and Hawaiian ornaments was obtained from the recurved crowns of the teeth of killer whales (Orca gladiator) independently should not be overlooked. The New Zealand ornament is pierced at the upper end for suspension by a cord, and the Hawaiian ornament is pierced midway down to hang between two coils of human hair plaited in a fine eight-ply square braid (Pl. XXI).

Coils of finely braided hair have been recorded for the Society and Cook Islands, Marquesas, Penryhn, and Hawaii where they were used for suspending breast ornaments; and similar coils, in Samoa and Niue for girdles. The use of human hair coils was evidently avoided in New Zealand and the belts (tu) consisting of many strands of three-ply braid were made of karetu grass or flax fibre. Probably the intense tapu of the Maori heads induced this conservative attitude.

The Spool Ornament

A type of ornament described as "reels" or "spools" resembles somewhat the bodies of vertebrae when strung together, but in addition to slightly raised flanges at the ends, a flange encircles the middle where the thickness is greater than at the ends (Fig. 81f).Small specimens made of bone and whale ivory resemble beads, and similar whale-ivory beads without the middle flange were found in the Cook Islands and Hawaii. Larger specimens were made of sections of human and moa bone and of stone. Some were notched on the flanges. In the Marquesas, sections of human bone were carved with a number of circular ridges. It is probable that specimens of the spool type were made originally of sections of human long bones with the medullary canal forming a natural hole for suspension. The later copies in whale ivory and stone must have occasioned some difficulty in drilling the longitudinal holes. The spools were found singly in different parts of the country and created differences of opinion as to their use. The problem was solved by James Roy Eyles, who, in digging on the Boulder Bank off the Wairau River in 1939, found a perforated moa egg and below it a human skeleton, with part of a moa skeleton and a necklace of seven whale-ivory "reels" with a perforated whale tooth as a middle page 290pendant. The necklace was described by Andersen (3), who thus made known the real function of the reels. The later magnificent finds associated with seven skeletons in the Wairau Boulder Bank excavation have been described in detail by Duff (30, p. 12). Some of the reels were made of recendy killed moa and these as well as blown moa eggs definitely established the fact already proposed by the findings of Skinner, Teviotdale, and others in moa-hunter camps farther south, that the earlier settlers of New Zealand had spread to the South Island before the moa became extinct. The presence of "reels", whale-tooth pendants, and necklaces of porpoise teeth in the Wairau excavations shows that they belonged to a pre-Fleet culture (Pl XXII).

Fig. 82. Chevroned pendants.a-d, after Skinner (74, figs. 124, 125, 126, 130).

Fig. 82. Chevroned pendants.
a-d, after Skinner (74, figs. 124, 125, 126, 130).

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The Chevroned Pendant

A curious type of breast pendant has been termed the chevroned amulet by Skinner (74, vol. 43, p. 199), but as he points out, the name is not quite satisfactory because some are without chevrons. The pendant is characterized by a curved body with perforated lateral expansions and a median perforated ridge on the front concave surface. The most complete chevroned specimen is in the Auckland Museum, and it remotely suggests a spinal column with the lateral bars and the median ridge suggesting the lateral and spinal processes of a vertebral column but with the general curve in the opposite way. The upper enlargement also suggests a skull (Fig. 82a).What the early craftsman had in mind when he laboriously carved a whale's tooth into such a complicated form remains unsolved. The "processes" and "spines" are shaped to form chevrons but in some of the less complicated forms, the chevrons are replaced by short notched projections which resemble the bait cleats on fishhooks (Fig. 82b).The head enlargement is usually absent.

In addition to the symmetrical form with a median ridge, Skinner described an asymmetrical variety without the median ridge, but by comparing specimens of both varieties, he showed that the technique or general pattern of the median ridge has been reproduced on one side while the lateral pattern has been retained on the other side (Fig. 82c). Skinner (74, vol. 43, p. 213) has drawn attention to the similarity of the chevrons to those on the well-known Kaitaia carving, and I agree with him that the chevron motif probably belonged to an early stage in Maori carving which was dropped after the subsequent development of curvilinear art. Another curious artifact is shown in Figure 82d.

The Tiki Breast Ornament

The tiki made of nephrite in human form is the best known of Maori ornaments and, since its reproduction by lapidaries for trade, the most common. Authentic old specimens in bone are comparatively rare but I agree with Skinner (74, vol. 41, p. 207) that bone was probably the original material because nephrite was too difficult and valuable a medium with which to experiment. It is also probable that the early forms in bone followed the carving conventions in wood and some specimens in nephrite figured by Skinner (74, vol. 41, Pl A 5, and Figs. 1, 2) have retained the form, in whole or part, of an earlier pattern (Fig. 83).

The type specimen (Fig. 83a)of this variety A, has an upright head, both hands resting on the abdomen, and the thighs flexed outwards with short, downward projections representing the legs. This practically conforms to the treatment of the human figure in wood. The other two specimens retain the type treatment of the legs, but the influence of the page 292later variety B is shown by one hand resting on the thigh (Fig. 83b)and the change in the position of the two hands and the inclination of the head (Fig. 83c). The turning up of one hand to the side of the mouth, however, is old for its occurs in Maori wood carvings and in the Society Islands and the Marquesas.

The more common form designated by Skinner as variety B, is characterized by the head being inclined sideways, the two hands resting on the horizontal thighs, and the sharply flexed legs being curved inwards
Fig. 83. Tiki jade ornaments, type A.a-c, after Skinner (74).

Fig. 83. Tiki jade ornaments, type A.
a-c, after Skinner (74).

to meet in the middle line. In the type form selected by Skinner (74, vol. 41, Pl. A, 3), the outline of the ornament is practically rectangular, but for the narrower width of the head. It is evident, as Skinner (74, vol. 41, p. 208) has pointed out, that the pieces of nephrite cut out of the block resemble, or are identical width, the form cut out to make adzes. In fact many tiki were made from adzes, the majority probably in post-European times when nephrite adzes ceased to be used and the demand for the tikiincreased. In the early utilization of nephrite, if we assume that tools were made before ornaments, it may be inferred that craftsmen, after developing the technique for cutting out pieces to form adzes, saw the possibility of converting some of the smaller adze pieces into valuable ornaments in human form. However, it took considerable labour to copy the early forms with upright heads and craftsmen must have devoted much thought to develop a pattern that would involve less labour in shaping from the initial rectangular pieces. The solution was variety B.
In the type form of variety B (Fig. 84a),the division between head and body at the wide neck was made with a small notch on either side with the minimum of labour. The head section was thus left in rectangular form. The placing of the eyes horizontally would have involved the page 293same labour of narrowing the face to the chin as in variety A, so the problem of reducing labour was cleverly solved by placing the eyes obliquely. This was done by placing one eye in a bottom corner and the other eye in the diagonal upper corner. The chin was placed in the remaining lower corner, and the other upper corner formed a pointed skull. Thus, a full face was formed with the least possible labour, so far as the outline
Fig. 84. Tiki jade ornaments, type B.a, b, after Skinner (74, pl. A, 3, 2); c, d, e, Oldman coll., nos. 690, 93, 94).

Fig. 84. Tiki jade ornaments, type B.
a, b, after Skinner (74, pl. A, 3, 2); c, d, e, Oldman coll., nos. 690, 93, 94).

was concerned. The filling in of the facial details had to be done no matter what the shape of the head.

Proceeding on the principle of reducing labour, a small notch was made on either side to separate the forearms from the horizontally flexed thighs. The extra labour involved in the downward-projecting legs of variety A was avoided by retaining a convexly curved lower border which probably derived its sharp edge from the pattern of adzes, as Skinner page 294maintains. The arms were now defined from the body by curved perforations on either side and two horizontal perforations separated the thighs from the legs. The paired perforations from the front were aided by meeting two deep, horizontal grooves on the back. The curved arm perforations separated the forearms from the body and made their lower ends rest on the horizontal thighs. Further details were added in some ornaments by forming fingers resting on the thighs and notches in the middle line between the legs to represent toes. The eyes were formed by sunken circles with a central raised pupil and paua-shell rings were sometimes fitted to the sunken part. The mouth followed the figure-of-eight type, except that the lower lip was elongated downward in a mesial point to follow the lines of the pointed chin. The body was sometimes ornamented with one or more grooved chevrons with the point upward. Sex was indicated in the ratio of one to three or one to four specimens, according to Skinner, and it was always female. I believe that the choice of sex was also a labour-saving device for the vulva was easily made by grooving a small ellipse, whereas a projecting male phallus would have involved technical difficulties in nephrite material. Best records seeing one tiki with a large phallus but such an ornament must have been a freak.

The rectangular-headed tiki has been suggested as the type involving the least labour but craftsmen were not averse to undergoing extra labour to make a better finish from their point of view. Hence variations were created. Some craftsmen ground off the pointed head so that a flat, oblique vertex resulted (Fig. 84b).Others rotated the upper eye closer to the vertical line with the lower eye, with the consequence that the now unoccupied upper right corner had to be ground off to form the upper oblique line of the face (Fig. 84c). Probably some variations in the shape of head resulted from flaws in the upper end of the material. Variations also occurred in the placing of the hands, the more common being the shifting of one hand onto the chest and, more rarely, to the chin or the mouth (Fig. 84d).Still more rarely, one hand rested on the body and the other extended to the mouth or side of the head. None of these changes in the position of the hands were novel, for they followed common motifs in local wood carving. The position of the legs was very constant, for there was not much scope for variation except to return to the position in variety A as shown in Figure 83. The head was perforated usually close to the edge to accommodate the lashing to the neck suspension cord (Fig. 84e).In many tiki, the suspension hole has worn through and necessitated the boring of another hole.

It is curious that the side inclination of the head has received no symbolic meaning but this was probably due to its being submerged in the symbolism applied to the tiki as a whole.

The origin of the term tiki dates back to the widely spread myth that page 295the first male created by Tane was named Tiki. Consequently when man carved the human form in wood, he called his creations tiki. In the Marquesas, small images made of stone and bone were termed tiki. In Hawaii, wooden images were called ki'i and in the Society Islands, ti'i, both dialectal forms of tiki. In the Cook Islands, wooden images were called tiki and carving in general, 'akatikitiki. The Maori ancestors brought variations of the Tiki myth and the use of tiki as applied to carvings in human form. The term tiki was applied to the carved human figures set up on the front gable end of important houses. When the ornaments in human form were made, they were also termed tikibut, to distinguish them from the larger wooden tiki, the nephrite ornaments were termed hei tiki, hei meaning to the around the neck.

The belief in symbolism and esoteric meanings has somewhat beclouded the natural origin of material inventions. Much is due to Maori informants being prone to attribute a supernatural origin to things about which there is no definite record. Thus, the first hei tiki is stated to have been made for Hineteiwaiwa by her father in the vague period of the gods, centuries before the first hei tiki was made in New Zealand. Best (16, vol. 1, p. 294) states that the mythical Tiki created by Tane was in reality tile personification of the phallus and that the tiki ornament is a fructifying symbol which "bears the sacerdotal name of the linga and its personified form". It is true that some creation songs of the Matorohanga school, in describing the act of coitus between Tane and Hineahuone, definitely refer to Tane's phallus as tiki. However, the term tiki was applied to images in Hawaii, Marquesas, and central Polynesia without the symbolism of the phallus, and this symbolism was evidently not applied to the large tiki carvings on houses. It is evident the hei tiki as a personified form of the phallus is a local myth composed by a particular school after the invention of the hei tiki. It is also curious that an alleged male symbol should be sexed as female.

Another rationalization is that the hei tiki "was made, wholly or partially, in the form of the human embryo". Skinner (74, vol. 41, p. 206) disproved this statement by showing that the tiki did not conform to the anatomical details of the human embryo, except for the large head, which, however, is characteristic of Maori art. It is more feasible to believe that the hei tiki was developed as an art form following established conventions in wood and bone carving but influenced by the character of the material and the initial form of the pieces cut out for working. It is evident that what was originally a valuable ornament in itself was later converted into an amulet. Thus, the small compart figure was likened to a human embryo and endowed with the magic power of promoting the growth of a viable embryo in the womb of the woman who wore it. To embellish the complex, the myth was composed that the first tiki was page 296made for Hineteiwaiwa, the goddess of childbirth. The fact that some of the early European visitors saw men wearing the tiki would seem to indicate that the "fructifying" properties of the tiki were a comparatively late addition to the ornament.


The tattooing art prevailed throughout Polynesia, except on Niue and some atolls. A Maori myth states that Mataora was tattooed in the under-world by his father-in-law Uetonga to replace his transient face painting with a permanent design. On his return to the human world, Mataora taught the craft of Uetonga, the craft (mahi) of tattooing (ta moko).

The technique of tattooing was similar throughout Polynesia. A many-pointed piece of bone attached to a handle at approximately a right angle
Fig. 85. Tattooing implements.a, hafted implement (Bishop Mus., no. 1533); b, blade of a; c, serrated blade (Bishop Mus, no. C. 3821).

Fig. 85. Tattooing implements.
a, hafted implement (Bishop Mus., no. 1533); b, blade of a; c, serrated blade (Bishop Mus, no. C. 3821).

was dipped into a thick pigment of soot and water and lightly tapped with a stick mallet over the selected skin area. The soot was obtained by burning oily kernels of the candle-nut, and a piece of bark cloth was used to swab the blood which oozed from the punctures. The technique was brought to New Zealand but the soot was obtained by burning the resinous heart wood (kapara) of the white pine and, in the north, the gum of the kauri pine. In the absence of bark cloth, the swabs were composed of soft flax fibre. The process of tattooing was termed ta moko, ta being the act of striking with the mallet and moko, the resultant pattern. The tattooing comb retained the Polynesian name of uhi (uwhi), to which the Maori added the figurative term matarau (a hundred points) in the poetic name of uhi matarau.

The Maori uhi resembles a miniature hafted adze, for a small branch was selected as a handle with a joined branch forming a toe to which a bone blade was lashed with transverse turns of a two-ply fine cord. In a page 297Bishop Museum specimen (No. 1533), the handle is 5 inches long and the toe 1.1 inches. The blade made of bird bone is 1.75 inches long and 0.25 inches wide with a slightly convex cutting edge ground from the back like an adze, and without teem. It extends along the whole length of the toe and projects free for a little over half an inch (Fig. 85a).Three instruments in me British Museum figured by Robley (61, p. 48), have similar handles which establish a form peculiar to New Zealand. The width of me blades varied, one in the Bishop Museum (C. 3821) being as narrow as ⅛ inch, and wider ones were formed of two pieces of bone lashed together laterally through perforations near the adjoining side edges as shown by Robley (61, p. 49) in a drawing after Polack. The tattooing artist thus had a number of instruments for different parts of his designs. In some instruments the bone blades were formed into comb-like teeth (Fig. 85c) as in other parts of Polynesia, others had a plain cutting edge (Fig. 85b)which is unique for New Zealand.

Fig. 86. Pigment containers.a, b, pumice, side and upper views (Bishop Mus., no. 1522); c, carved wood (Oldman coll., no. 496).

Fig. 86. Pigment containers.
a, b, pumice, side and upper views (Bishop Mus., no. 1522); c, carved wood (Oldman coll., no. 496).

The mallet was termed mahoe according to Robley (61, p. 49) who states that some had a broad, flattened surface at one end to wipe away the blood, though flax fibre was also used. A similar expansion on Tahitian mallets may have been used for a similar purpose. A piece of fern stalk was sometimes used as a mallet.

A container with a rounded cavity was made of pumice to hold the prepared pigment. A specimen in the Bishop Museum (No. 1522) has a rounded bottom crossed at right angles by two deep grooves, which extend upwards to the rim (Fig. 86a, b).The actual cavity is 40 mm. by 37 mm. at the rim and 27 mm. deep. The pumice material was evidently selected because it was easy to shape. Some more elaborate pigment containers were made of wood and a well-carved specimen from the Oldman collection is shown in Figure 86c.

Though the general technique was old, the art patterns developed along independent lines. A comparison of the available tattooing patterns page 298from the various parts of Polynesia shows so much divergence that no adequate clue remains of an original pattern shared by all. Thus independent evoludon in designs has taken place in the various island groups, presumably after they were settled from common centres.

The patterns which accompanied the early settlers must have been much simpler than those in vogue at the time of European contact. A very simple pattern of short, straight lines survived in the South Island and White (104, vol. 1, frontispiece) figured one termed moko kuri. The pattern consisted of groups of three short, parallel lines so arranged on the face that each set was at right angles to its neighbours and conveys the impression of plaiting in a check design. It is interesting to know that the Hawaiians used a check pattern in small squares with the alternate squares filled in. The moko kuri did not require the services of a very expert artist, and it may have survived in the South Island for that reason.

The extraordinary development of wood carving in the North Island opened up a vista of new motifs and designs, and a curvilinear art was developed in tattooing as well as in carving. The identity of the curves and double spirals in both arts indicates that one borrowed from the other; and, of the two, it seems more likely that inanimate wood rather than sensitive skin was the medium upon which the new art motifs were first tried out and established. But in addition to supplying art motifs, carving influenced the mechanical process of reproducing these motifs on flesh. Maori tattooing differs from the smooth punctured results of tattooing in Polynesia, in that the main lines of the designs are deep or sunk below the surface so that the spaces between parallel lines appear as ridges, to some extent similar to the designs on wood. It was thus apparent that such lines were incised and not punctured. This effect had led to the theory that the lines were cut with an implement such as a stone flake or a shark's tooth used like a scalpel in making continuous incisions. The correct solution lies in the fact that the Maori tattooing artists took a further cue from the carving experts and ground down or sharpened some of their bone blades like an adze with a plain edge without teeth (Fig. 85a, b).With such implements, the tattooer, on tapping with the mallet, cut through the skin instead of puncturing it and by the continued application of the narrow cutting blade, he had more control in forming his incised design than if he had tried to use a primitive scalpel. The toothed implements were used for filling in and for subsidiary motifs.

Various parts of the body and limbs were treated throughout Polynesia, but the Samoans and Tongans specialized on a close design from waist to knees that resembled close fitting shorts. In the Marquesas and Mangareva, the tattooing of the lower limbs was extended down to the feet, like tights. Pictorial records from the Society and Cook Islands are scanty but Williams (108, frontispiece) gives a picture of the Rarotongan page 299chief Te Pou with full tattooing extending to the feet. Though the pattern may be imaginary, the skin area may be correct. The distribution indicates that tattooing of the waist-to-knee area may be old enough to have been introduced into New Zealand, where it was continued. The Maori waistto-knee design was termed răpě, and it consisted of large double spirals over the buttocks and gluteal region with an oblique linear design on the thighs. The use of the double spiral shows that, though the tattooing area may have been old, the design was new.

Face tattooing was present in the Marquesas, Mangareva, and Easter Island, but absent in Samoa and Tonga. In the Marquesas and Mangareva, it consisted of wide horizontal bands. In central Polynesia, the face tattooing was meagre. The Maori face tattooing was full with a combination of various motifs assigned to particular parts, each motif having a specific name. Tattooing commenced on one side of the face, and sometimes the other side was completed later on in life. The half tattoo was termed papatahi (one side), and many old men never completed their tattooing owing to the custom going out of fashion. Women had a distinctive pattern on the chin and, more rarely, some smaller motif elsewhere. For the various tattooing motifs and designs, see page 322.

A wooden feeding funnel was invented locally for use when the swelling around the mouth and lips made ordinary feeding a painful process. As the elaborate face tattooing was confined to chiefs, it is probable that their social position stimulated the invention and led to their being decorated with fine carving. Some of them are exquisite examples of Maori art (Pl. XXIII).

Tattooing was a chiefly decoration and its social importance encouraged the acquirement of skill by experts, who were well rewarded for their services. A statement has been made that different patterns constituted heraldic devices which distinguished different tribes. That this is an assumption based on an English background is proved by the fact that chiefs invited tattooing artists from other tribes who had acquired a reputation for their particular designs. The visiting artist reproduced the design of his particular school, and if it was a tribal device, the patient would have been branded with the distinguishing pattern of the artist's tribe, which is absurd.

Preserved Tattooed Heads

The custom of embalming the complete body of a chiefly corpse was observed in the Society Islands, Marquesas, and Mangareva. In Hawaii, some corpses were disembowelled and salt put into the abdominal cavity. No reliable evidence is available from the Cook Islands. The Maori practice of preserving the head (pakipaki) does not appear to be a partial survival but rather an independent development due to reasonable causes.

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One was that important chiefs who died or were killed on a campaign in enemy country had only the head preserved because it was impossible to take home the whole body over a long distance. The preserved head in lieu of the body was wept over by the widow and the tribe. The second cause was to bring back the head of a detested enemy chief mat he might be insulted and reviled in death by the widows and orphans he had created in life. As the heads of bom friend and foe worth preserving were those of chiefs, it followed mat the preserved heads were well tattooed.

The Maori technique of preserving consisted of removing the eyes and tongue, extracting the brain by enlarging the foramen magnum at the base of the cranium, stretching and stitching the skin of the neck to a small supplejack hoop, steaming the leaf-wrapped head in an earth oven, and smoke drying it. That the method of preserving was effective is shown by the number in museums being still in a good state of preservation.

The Old Order Changeth

Tattooing survived for quite an appreciable time after European contact. A minor change was the use of steel instead of bone in the tattooing combs, some being serrated and others plain like a narrow chisel. The missionaries discouraged the practice with some success but a revival took place in the 1860's when feeling ran high between the two races. The face patterns of this period were somewhat curtailed perhaps through a lack of artists graduated from the old schools. The patterns consisted of the forehead curves (tiwhana), the nose to chin curves (nga kawe or rerepehi), and incomplete nose patterns, the cheek double spirals and accessory motifs being left out After the end of the Maori War, or about 1870, tattooing was discontinued by men.

The women, however, were much more conservative, and successive generations had their chins and lips tattooed with the old patterns. Later artists used a row of needles for the tattooing implement but the patterns were often smudged instead of being clear cut as with the older implements. It was the lack of artists, rather than the lack of desire, which led to the discontinuance of tattooing among women, though education in pakeha ways would have ultimately led to the repudiation of the practice by the younger generations.

A fair number of preserved heads were in the possession of the Maori people at the time of European contact, and attracted by the artistic tattooing designs, curio collectors created a gruesome trade in tattooed heads. The Maori were so desirous of obtaining trade goods that they readily bartered their enemy heads, and the lack of specimens in their possession at a later date raises the suspicion that they either sold those of their relatives as well or buried them to escape temptation. The need for enough native material with which to barter led some chiefs to prepare page 301their slaves for the market and the tattooing was barely healed before their heads were removed for preserving. Thus the chiefly honour the slaves enjoyed was short lived, but they could not have acquired the distinction otherwise. It is said that a few were disloyal enough to escape before the finishing touches could be applied. The products of the trade eventually found their way into museums all over the world. The American Museum of Natural History in New York acquired the large collection of over 20 specimens which had been gathered by Major-General Robley, the author of the standard work on Maori tattooing (61). This collection was once offered for sale to New Zealand, but the price was not acceptable. Perhaps it is better that they did not come home, for some of the specimens with blurred and hastily executed details bear eloquent witness to one of the effects of the white man's encouragement of native art for commercial purposes.

The first ornament to cease to function was probably the whalebone comb for when the men cut off their topknots to become Christians, they lost the support for the combs. It is probable that the plaited circlets worn to support feathers were made as a substitute for the loss of the topknot support. Other ornaments ceased to be worn by the Maori not so much because the owners liked cheap trade jewellery better but because they gave them away as gifts or sold them to traders and collectors. Every distinguished visitor who was welcomed ceremonially on the village maraes unwittingly depleted the stock of family heirlooms, for family prestige had to be maintained at any sacrifice. Nephrite ear ornaments and whale-ivory cloak pins became popular for wearing on the watch chain by Maori and pakeha alike. However, the stock of authentic material could not supply the demand. Curio dealers began to import pseudo tiki from Birmingham, and lapidaries began to produce nephrite ornaments at a more rapid rate with the emery wheel. Maori guides at tourist resorts sold "authentic" family heirlooms at a high-priced "sacrifice" and then collected their commission from the dealers. The Red Cross in Auckland brought joy to the hearts of numbers of convalescent American soldiers during World War II by giving each one a small nephrite tiki as a good luck talisman. As a result a new myth was born, for in the United States the tiki is regarded not as a fructifying symbol for women but as a protective war amulet for men. And so in divers ways the old order changed, giving place to new.