Object: Kahu kiwi (kiwi feather cloak)
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|Title||Kahu kiwi (kiwi feather cloak)|
Unknown (weaver), 1800-1900, New Zealand
|Medium summary||muka, brown kiwi feathers|
|Materials||muka, feather, harakeke|
|Classification||kahu kiwi, cloaks|
x 1500mm (Width)
x 60mm (Depth)
Approximate: 1500mm (Width) x 1250mm (Length)
|Credit line||Purchased date unknown|
This large Brown kiwi (Apteryx sp.) feather cloak is made from brown and white (albino) kiwi feathers woven in bold alternating stripes down the whole length. The inside consists of yellow and black vertical lines of dyed muka (flax fibre: Phormium tenax) woven into the kaupapa (main body) of the cloak.
In the graphic representations and descriptions by Päkehä artists in the first half of the nineteenth century, feather cloaks do not appear. For example, the British artist George French Angas, who in 1844 created a large and representative number of paintings, of which 114 Mäori subjects were dressed in cloaks, did not paint a single kähu huruhuru (feather cloak). This implies that the present form of feather cloaks did not exist. It was not until the latter half of the nineteenth century that feathered cloaks suddenly appeared when photographic recording became fashionable. While their actual origin is unknown, by the 1880s they had become the most coveted prestige garments. The feather cloak introduced a new era of experimentation and colour into weaving, which became more pronounced when feathers from introduced birds like peacocks began to be incorporated.
Augustus Hamilton, Director of History at the Colonial Museum between 1903 and 1913, photographed Härata Te Kiore, a highly ranked woman of the Whanganui River tribes, wearing the cloak in a carefully arranged natural looking setting. Te Kiore was a niece to the Whanganui fighting chiefs, Te Hä Marama and Te Kurukaanga.
Find additional information about this object at these sites
- Google Art Project
Results from DigitalNZ
Searching 25 million digital objects from over 140 content partners across New Zealand
- Photograph of a young woman wearing a kiwi feather cloak (kahu kiwi) - Alexander Turnbull Library
- Brown kiwi plucked for ancient cloaks - Science Learning Hub
- TirikÄtene family kahu kiwi - Ministry for Culture and Heritage
- Putiputi Tonihi weaving a cloak with kiwi feathers - Alexander Turnbull Library
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.