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The Coming of the Maori



During childhood, a good deal of attention was paid to manipulation of the body to make it attain a standard of beauty of form. Various forms of massage were used such as stroking and kneading the muscles with the fingers (romiromi), pressure against the spine with the feet (takahi, tread), and stretching the legs by pulling (toto). I remember my mother looking at my legs approvingly and saying, "My hands made your legs what they are." There is a saying which counsels mothers, "Stretch the legs of your daughter that she may walk with grace across the courtyard before the assembled people." Manipulation applied to the nose has created a difference of opinion. Some writers have stated that pressure was applied with the fingers to flatten and broaden the nose and hence have argued that this method pointed to a Melanesian origin in which a flat nose was the type of manly beauty. If this were true, it is curious that a flat nose or ihu parehe as it is termed not only does not create any enthusiasm but the unfortunate possessor is made the butt of disparaging remarks. On the other hand, old women have demonstrated to me that the fingers were pressed inwards and upwards from either side to raise the bridge of the nose and narrow the spread of the wings of the nostrils. This second procedure points to a different ideal of beauty.