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Object: Tivaevae manu (applique quilt)

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Title Tivaevae manu (applique quilt)
Production Underhill, Jasmine, 1987, New Zealand
Materials cotton
Classification embroidery
Credit line Purchased 1999 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds
Registration number FE011188

Tïvaevae - Treasured quilts

Tïvaevae are treasured quilts made by women in the Cook Islands. Tïvaevae are made from brightly coloured fabrics, and designs can include geometric shapes, flower and animal designs - though animal or bird shapes are considered unlucky on a bedspread. While tïvaevae serve a practical purpose, they are used as decorations and, more importantly, presented as gifts at important occasions such as weddings, funerals, pakoti'anga rauru (boy's haircutting ceremonies), receptions for church ministers and, among New Zealand Cook Islanders, 21st birthday parties, gifts to VIPs and dearly loved people in the family and the community.

Missionary Influence
Tïvaevae are believed to have been introduced to the Cook Islands by the wives of early European Christian missionaries, who taught quilting and needlework. It is thought that patchwork quilts came first, and appliqué and embroidered quilts later. It did not take long for this imported art form to take on a uniquely Cook Island appearance, with bright, vibrant tivaevae motifs such as flowers and plants reflecting the natural environment of the Cook Islands.

Making Tïvaevae
When making tïvaevae, while some women work alone, many work together to sew their quilts in women's groups called va'ine tini, which meet to share ideas and sing as they work. They are similar to the Tongan koka'anga and other women's work parties found throughout the Pacific Islands. There are four main kinds of tïvaevae. Tivaevae ta'orei (patchwork), have a large number of small patches sewn together to form a pattern. Tïvaevae manu (appliqué) and Tïvaevae tataura (embroidered appliqué), have designs sewn to a backing cloth. Tïvaevae tuiauri are sewn on the sewing machine.

This tïvaevae manu was made by Jasmine Underhill, a leading member of the Pacific Islands community in Porirua and a well known tivaevae maker. She founded a Cook Island women's tïvaevae group in Porirua in the 1980s was very active in the cultural affairs in Porirua as a City Councillor and through her involvement with the former Museum and Page 90 and the new Pataka. Her tïvaevae are excellent examples of the manu type.

Related information

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