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The Coming of the Maori

The Coloured Taniko Border

The Coloured Taniko Border

There appears little technical doubt that the narrow two-coloured side borders of the dogskin cloaks prepared the way for the wider decorative
Fig. 33. Taniko technique.a, front; b, back; c, design.

Fig. 33. Taniko technique.
a, front; b, back; c, design.

bands in more than two colours which made taniko work the masterpiece in Maori weaving. The dogskin cloaks were restricted to two colours because there were only two threads in the weft. Some inventive genius merely added another coloured thread to the weft and carried on with the same technique except that there were now two passive elements at the back instead of one (Fig. 33a, b). Thus in using black, white, and red, the composite weft contained a thread of each colour. The colour desired in front formed the active thread and the other two merely con-page 173tinued along behind the warps. Thus when black was desired, the black made full turns around the passive white and red threads for the number of warps desired. After crossing the last warp, black passed back to join the passive threads, and red, if desired, was brought forward in the same interspace to become active. Thus black and red made a half turn to change colour. The weaver had complete control of her colours and yellow was often used to form a fourth colour. With such a composite weft, a two-ply twisted white thread was added. It remained with the passive threads throughout but now and again, it was pulled to straighten out the row. A twisted thread was used to distinguish it from the white thread used in the coloured designs. The colours were used to form geometrical patterns with oblique lines, bars, zigzag bands, triangles and lozenges as the artistic taste of the weaver devised (Fig. 33c).