Title / object name
Kaitaka aronui/pätea (fine cloak with deep lower täniko border and horizontal aho weft rows)
|Maker ||Role |
|Unknown ||weaver |
Muka (flax), dogskin and dog hair, wool yarn, traditional black and brown dyesMaterials
muka, dog hair, dogskin, wool, dye
|Overall ||1400 (Length) x 2180 (Width) x 70 (Depth) mm|
kaitaka aronui, cloaks
Contemporary weaving artist Toi Te Rito Maihi has said: ‘Whoever wore this cloak was no shrinking violet. This is a real “look-at-me” garment.’
The cloak combines two prestigious styles to outstanding effect. Fundamentally, it is a classic kaitaka – defined by its unadorned main body and borders of taniko (geometric patterning).
The cross-over feature is the flowing dog-hair trim. Such trims are typically found on kahu kuri (dog-skin cloaks), which are the most prestigious of cloaks. However, the hair on this example is not from a kuri, the now-extinct Pacific dog. Further research may determine the breed.
In 1981, the National Museum of New Zealand purchased this cloak for £1000 at Christie’s Tribal Art auction in London. The catalogue noted that it was originally collected in 1862 by Admiral Sir Malcolm MacGregor when he was commanding HMS Harrier, which was deployed in the Waikato land wars.
The kaupapa (foundation) of the kaitaka is muka (flax fibre), with the commencement at the top, which is carefully finished with an extremely delicate, flat plait of brown and black muka. The aho (horizontal, or weftl) rows are twined in whatu aho rua (two-pair weft twining) technique, measuring a very fine ten whenu (vertical threads, or warp) per centimetre, with 7 mm spacing between rows.
There are four sets of aho poka (darts) in simple elliptical inserts: four rows at the very top; four rows 140 mm from the top for the shoulders; four rows 240 mm from the bottom; and two rows 20 mm from the bottom.
The expansive kaupapa foundation is framed with narrow side borders and a deep lower border of taniko (geometric patterning). The side taniko borders are 20 mm wide and feature varying aronui (triangular) patterns in black and undyed muka. Red wool on one side, and red and light purple coloured wool on the other, have been incorporated into the taniko design. The lower taniko border measures ten whenu per centimetre, with variations in depth of 180–210 mm. It is a complex combination of distinctive diamond and triangular patterns, and incorporates traditionally dyed black and undyed muka, and wool in red, green and white. This cloak features a fine recessed pattern on the black taniko.
Two rows of awe (dog hair tassels), attached to a muka plait, create a thick fringe across the bottom of the cloak and part way up the sides. Some of the awe are bound in half-hitches with red wool, which perhaps could be later repair work. There is also an additional attachment of dog skin and hair along the proper right, lower side corner.