Object: Käkahu with feathers and wool (cloak)
This image is All rights reserved.
Please follow the Buy or license link under each image to apply to use this image. (Charges may apply)
Why you need to apply for the use of this image
Rights for this work may be:
- controlled by the artist, the artist's estate, or other rights holders; or
- unclear - Te Papa will do a more detailed analysis of the work’s rights history; or
- covered by Te Papa’s Mana Taonga principle which supports the rights of holders of traditional knowledge to determine how the image may be used.
You need to make sure you don’t infringe on the rights of third parties before you use this image. Our image request process helps with this. Te Papa does not authorise the use of this image beyond the uses allowed by the “fair dealing” provisions of the New Zealand Copyright Act, 1994.
More information about copyright
We recommend these resources for more information:
- Copyright in NZ - Ministry of Economic Development
- Copyright guidelines and resource - Lianza
- Enabling use and re-use - Digital NZ
Find more information about Te Papa's rights project on our blog, including how rights types are assigned.
Get in touch
Please contact email@example.com
- if you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, or
- if you wish to contact the rights holder for this work. We will assist where we can.
|Title||Käkahu with feathers and wool (cloak)|
Unknown (weaver), 1860-1900, New Zealand
|Medium summary||wool, muka, male ring-necked pheasant feathers, pukeko feathers|
|Materials||muka, feather, wool|
|Technique||twining, hand sewing|
x 1270mm (Width)
Overall: 1260mm (Width) x 1100mm (Length)
This unique kakahu (cloak) of feathers and wool, is distinctive for its four playing card symbols and partly-formed letters embroidered in wool. According to some scholars, playing card symbols were used as religious imagery by some iwi and were also used in other art forms.
If this cloak was worn around the body, the letters would have appeared upside down. The unpicked letter in the middle may have been an ‘H’, while the partially unpicked, back-to-front red ‘N’ continues to perplex researchers. Multicoloured wool in ornamental two-ply twists form five arrow-like designs above the playing card symbols.
Along with other Maori and Pacific items, this kakahu was discovered in a saturated box in the basement of the New Zealand High Commission in London after a flood in 1984. Valerie Carson, then textile conservator for the National Museum of New Zealand, happened to be in London at the time and was asked to inspect the items. Carson recommended that the artefacts be returned to the museum, where they could be conserved and properly cared for; this took place that year.
Feathers border all four sides as well as forming unusual triangular shapes in the body of the kakahu. The bluish-black feathers are from the lower belly of the pukeko, and the brown, cream and black feathers are from various parts of the male common pheasant.
The kaupapa (foundation) of the kakahu is muka (flax fibre) twined in whatu aho rua (double-pair weft twining). It measures six whenu (vertical threads) per centimetre, with 8 mm spacing between each aho (horizontal, or weft) row. There are 124 rows of whatu aho rua, with 562 whenu across the commencement, or lower edge, of the cloak.
The only aho poka (dart) starts at the sixty-fifth aho row from commencement, continuing to shorten for seven consecutive rows as simple elliptical inserts in the middle of the cloak.
The cloak is completed at the top with a double whenu spiral finish.
The wool is a combination of rows of looped and ornamental two-ply twists in lavender, orange, green, black and red. The decorative twists are combinations of green and yellow, lavender and orange, and blue and red.
Based on an excerpt from chapter 6 of Whatu Kakahu|Maori Cloaks, edited by Awhina Tamarapa, © Te Papa Press 2011.
Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.