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The Coming of the Maori

Single-Pair Twining

Single-Pair Twining

The single-pair twine was used throughout Polynesia and in New Zealand in making fish traps. Whenever available, the material used was the aerial roots of the local Freycinetia (kiekie or 'ie'ie) but other roots or vines were also used. Containers of various kinds were also made with the single-pair twine.

In making traps, the vertical or longitudinal lengths of single vines were fixed in position by a pair of vines being twined around each single vine or rod, a half turn being made so that the front and back vines of the twining pair changed position on each rod. On completing the circuit of the rods, the twine was not made to meet the commencement end to form a hoop but was diverged so as to continue a spiral course with an equal interspace between the rows of twining. This technique with stiff material comes under the general category of basketry.

The single-pair twine was used in close rows to form more compact objects. In Hawaii, a close single-pair twine with 'ie'ie aerial roots was used to cover gourd and wooden vessels and to make containers of vine alone. In Tahiti, a close single-pair twine was made with two-ply coir cord to cover the wooden core of symbols representing the gods.

The application of the single-pair twine to soft, fibrous material was not present in western, northern, and eastern Polynesia. In central Polynesia, it was not used for garments in the Society Islands but in the Cook Islands it does occur as one or two rows below the waist band of bast kilts used in dancing. It also occurred sporadically in some of the Tuamotu atolls. Thus there is no evidence that single-pair twining was an established technique for making garments in central Polynesia. Therefore, it may be assumed that after experimenting with soft scutched flax fibre for clothing, the Maori independently adopted the single-pair twine of fish traps to avoid the disadvantages involved in plaiting. However, in applying the single-pair twine of stiff material in circular objects to soft material on a flat surface, the general technique changed from basketry to downward weaving (Fig. 26).