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Object: Kahu kurï (dog skin cloak)

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Title Kahu kurï (dog skin cloak)
Production Unknown (weaver), New Zealand
Medium summary Dogskin, dog hair, muka, traditional dye
Materials muka, dogskin, dog hair, dye
Classification kahu kuri, cloaks
Technique twining, hand sewing
Dimensions Overall: 930mm (Height) x 970mm (Width)
Approximate: 1050mm (Width) x 980mm (Length)
Registration number ME000742

This kahu kuri (dogskin cloak) is from the Augustus Hamilton collection, which the Dominion Museum (Te Papa’s predecessor) purchased in 1914 from Hamilton’s widow. Although most of the hair has worn away and there is some detachment of strips from the kaupapa (foundation), this actually allows the cloak’s construction to be clearly seen. The narrow dogskin strips are ingeniously cut and very precisely inserted end to end.

Kahu kuri are always outstanding for the meticulous care and skill required in their manufacture.

Construction

The kaupapa (base) is weft-twined in pauku or pukupuku technique. The whenu (vertical thread) measures five per centimetre. The bottom edge has a rolled finish.

Dyed and natural muka (flax fibre) are used in the taniko (geometric patterning) in diagonal lines, at each border, including the top. The taniko measures five whenu per centimetre and is 20 mm in width. The edge is finished with an ornamental twist.

The aho poka (darts) are in two sets of simple elliptical inserts, one set 40 cm from the bottom and the other 60 cm from the top of the cloak.

The strips of dog skin are attached immediately below the top taniko. Dog-hair awe (tassels), bound with muka, are attached to the sides.

This kahu kuri may have been an ihupuni – a dogskin cloak with a white body and black borders – as there are remnants of dark hair left on the side dogskin strips.

Based on an excerpt from chapter 6 of Whatu Kakahu|Maori Cloaks, edited by Awhina Tamarapa, © Te Papa Press 2011.

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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.