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Ethnology of Tokelau Islands

Men's Kilt

Men's Kilt

The men's fringed kilt (kafa malo), worn on ceremonial occasions, was woven of kie pandanus (pl. 7, A), plaited with the technique used in making pandanus mats. It was about 5 feet long, 1.5 feet wide, and had a fringe about 2 feet long on each longitudinal border. The kilt was worn folded lengthwise with the fringes hanging down.

An ornamental black band running parallel to the edge of the girdle was formed of four strips of dyed coconut leaf which were entered into the plaiting from one end and were carried horizontally across by being turned at right angles between the wefts of alternate strokes. Each dyed strip was overlaid on one weft and plaited with it. On the next stroke the strip was passed underneath the weft and turned at right angles with the weft running in the opposite direction. On the next stroke of this weft the dyed strip was brought to the surface on the other side of the girdle and at right angles with the first stroke on the original side. The dyed strip was carried with the second weft under the next stroke, where it was turned at right angles again and carried down on a weft parallel to the first. It now appeared again on top of the girdle three strokes beyond its first appearance. This technique was carried on with four strips parallel to each other and commencing on parallel wefts. The fringe was applied to the girdle as the commencing edge and finishing edges were worked by leaving the wefts attached to the end of the leaf strip. The page 142 wefts were thus introduced in groups, and the long unsplit ends projected down. The ends were later split to the edges of the mat.

The belt (kafa lauulu) of the kilt was braided of human hair (lauulu) in four strands which were knotted together at each end. These belts were 12 to 18 feet long and were worn wrapped several times around the waist.

Eyeshades, plaited coconut leaf headbands, ornaments of shell and bone, wreaths of flowers, and feathers completed the men's full dress for ceremonial occasions.