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The Coming of the Maori



Plaited war belts (tatua kotara) have been mentioned under plaiting. Women wore belts (tu) formed of braided strands of fragrant karetu grass. Early voyagers who mentioned them have stated that bunches of fragrant grass or leaves were suspended from the belts in front.

The best belts were made of dressed fibre. A fine example in the British Museum consists of a band 6 feet 8 inches long and 18 inches wide with end cords for tying. The weaving technique is unique in that it consists of close rows formed with the two-pair weft.

Cook (25, Vol. 3, p. 454), after referring to the usual dress of two page 176pieces, one tied over the shoulders, and the other wrapped around the waist, goes on to say, "the lower garment, however, is worn by the men only upon particular occasions; but they wear a belt, to which a string is fastened, for a very singular use. The inhabitants of the South Sea islands slit up the prepuce so as to prevent it from covering the glans of the penis, but these people, on the contrary, bring the prepuce over the glans, and to prevent it from being drawn back by the contraction of the part, they de the string which hangs from their girdle, round the end of it. The glans indeed seemed to be the only part of their body which they were solicitous to conceal, for they frequently threw off all their dress but the belt and string, with the most careless indifference, but showed manifest signs of confusion, when, to gratify our curiosity, they were requested to untie the string, and never consented but with the utmost reluctance and shame."