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Object: Poi taniko (percussive device)

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Title Poi taniko (percussive device)
Production Unknown (weaver), 1800-1900, New Zealand
Medium summary Muka, raupo
Materials muka, raupo
Classification poi, percussion instruments
Technique taniko, weaving
Dimensions Overall: 325mm (Length) x 95mm (Width)
Overall: 450mm (Length) x 65mm (Width)
Credit line Acquisition history unknown
Registration number ME003940

Poi are tennis-ball-size balls attached to short lengths of cord. They are used by women to accompany waiata (songs). They are swung, slapped, and caught - round and round, and back and forth - in unison. The visual and rhythmic patterns can be very complex. Whether mimicking the flight of a bird or the paddling of a waka (canoe), poi create dramamtic effects and draw attention to the words of the waiata.

In the past, poi were used to make the wrists more flexible for hand-to-hand combat, and, among some iwi (tribes), were called upon by tohunga (experts) during karakia (prayers) to help connect the spiritual and physical worlds. The poi tradition continues today, preserved by women in kapa-haka (cultural performance) groups.

These poi have been made using the täniko (fine embroidery or weaving in a geometric pattern) techinique seen on the ornamental borders of prestigious cloaks. The word 'Mihi' (greeting, tribute) has been woven on the poi in an elaborate pattern and could refer to the owner, a significant tupuna (ancestor), or even a greeting during performance.

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