Baskets may be divided into the circular, rimmed type, in which cooked food is served, and the satchel type. The satchels vary in size and material, and are known as kete to the Maori and “ kits” to the European. Kete were used not only as receptacles for containing and carrying material things in, but figure in incantations and mystic rites to enclose the miraculous. The god Tane, as the personified form of knowledge, successfully ascended to the twelfth heaven to obtain from Io the three baskets of occult-knowledge. Again, Tane, after Hine-titama the Dawn-maiden had fled from him, collected the stars into four named baskets ere adorning the person of the Sky-father with them. It is interesting to note, from an incantation handed down about one of those astronomical kits, named whiriwhiri, that the process of manufacture must have been the same in those god-like days as now. The incantation recorded by S. Percy Smith runs:—
Ka whiriwhiri taku kete
Ka rangaranga taku kete
Ko Tu-tawake taku kete tu.
The ends of the wefts of my basket are being twisted,
The wefts of my basket are being plaited;
My basket is Tu-tawake.
Whiriwhiri, as we shall see, is the process of twisting the scraped ends of the wefts into a three-ply plait which is the special beginning of the Maori kete. Before dealing with the two main types of basket, mention must be made of a rare variety of kete which forms a link with the ancient home in the islands.
Kete nikau.—This basket was made from the leaf of the nikau -palm, and is the direct representative of the rough baskets made in Polynesia from the leaf of the coconut-palm. The women at Koriniti knew such baskets were made in the past, but had forgotten how. One in the Dominion Museum, Wellington, and figured in Hamilton's Maori Art, shows that the technique was exactly the same as the rougher island ones. The midrib of the leaf was split down for the desired length of basket, and the two halves, each with its attached row of leaflets, formed the two sides. The midrib portion formed the upper border, whilst the leaflets were treated as wefts already in position and plaited downwards in a check stroke for the requisite depth. They were then finished off on the inside in a three-ply plait along the bottom.
These baskets were made on emergency occasions in the forest, and were not nearly so common as their island prototype.
Baskets for Cooked Food.—The kono is in shape like a wide-bottomed bowl; but though the rim is circular, from the pliability of the material, the bottom has four corners. It is about 10 in. in diameter and 3 in. deep, but the measurements vary with the width of the flax-blades used.
It is usually made from three full blades of flax, which, after having the margins of the leaf and midrib removed, are split down and left connected by a portion of butt of 1-½ in. to 2 in. below the butt-junction. Each weft, consisting of a half-blade, is thus the widest weft obtainable. In splitting down it is difficult to prevent the blades becoming completely separated, and if by care the process is stopped at the right place, below the butt-junction, the pressure brought on the wefts, when plaiting, causes the butt connection to separate. This is prevented by bending the butt backwards and forwards so as to make a crease across it below the butt-junction. This is done first, and as the two half-blades are pulled apart the splitting process stops naturally at the crease, leaving the connecting piece of butt beyond intact. The butt connection is further strengthened by completely bending back the half-blades at the crease, so that the blades are inside out as it were, and the butt portion is tucked away between the half-blades. This not only strengthens the butt connections but, by concealing them, makes neater work.
The beginning consists in plaiting with a check stroke one pair of wefts through two pairs at right angles (fig. 31). They are drawn tightly together so that the closed ends are locked and nearest to the plaiter. The purpose of the butt connections is easily seen: they prevent the wefts at the beginning from coming apart, and make for neatness and celerity of work. Try to commence a kono with six separate wefts and you will appreciate the difference. Maori women, when separation of the pairs sometimes takes place with very stiff flax, quickly tie the butt together again with a thin strip of flax ere attempting to go further.
Fig. 31 shows four sinistral wefts and two dextrals. The right sinistral (S4) is bent at right angles to its course and plaited through the other three sinistrals by raising S2, and depressing S3 and S1 with the left hand. By pulling S4 taut the sinistral and dextral wefts are bent upwards and approximated, whilst the surface of S4, which looked upwards, now looks inward towards the butts. The closing-in of the angle between S4 and D2 forms the first bottom corner, and the alteration in the direction of the surface of S4 begins the side of the kono (fig. 32). Through the tightening up of S4 the two dextrals and remaining three sinistrals have been drawn closely together. The right weft of this series of five (D1) is
given a half-twist forwards so as to expose its other surface, and is then plaited through the remaining four wefts of the series so as to continue the check pattern. To do this S3 and S1 are drawn forward and D2 S2 pressed back with the left hand, whilst the right places D1 between them, pulls it taut, and presses it down in close contact with the preceding weft, S4. The next weft on the right (D2) is now given a half-turn, usually forward, and interlaced through the remaining three wefts by raising S2 and pressing back S3 and S1. The next weft on the right (S3), with a half-turn forwards, passes between the remaining two wefts by pressing back S2 and bringing S1 forward. It will be noted that we commenced with a series of four
The making of a kono, or basket for cooked food: Fig. 31, the commencement;
fig. 32, the first bottom corner; fig. 33, the second bottom corner;
fig. 34, the third bottom corner.
sinistrals and two dextrals, and have arrived at a second series of a four on the left and a pair on the right. In the first series it was the right-hand weft of the four that made the corner. It was not twisted, but simply bent. The other three were given a half-twist ere being plaited. The twists form the upper edge of the kono, and a forward twist makes it lie more smoothly. However, a back twist may be used; but whichever twist is given must be adhered to throughout. The plaiter, from observing the crossing of the wefts, separates the appropriate wefts with easy accuracy, and the work goes on automatically. The work is also rotated so as to keep the plaiting in front.
Fig. 33 shows the new series of a four on the left and a pair on the right, but to avoid confusion the old numbering is adhered to. The angle between
the four and the pair, on being closed in, will form the second bottom corner. The procedure is exactly as before. The right-hand weft of the four (S3) is bent through the remaining three at right angles to its course, and passes under the projecting end of one of the butt connections. On being drawn taut, the remaining three wefts (D2, D1, and S4) and the pair (S2 and S1) are drawn close together into a series of five and their course directed upwards. S3 has its upper surface turned inwards to continue the side of the kono, and its bend forms a second bottom corner. The five wefts are dealt with as before, commencing on the right with half-twists forward, and plaiting throught the wefts on the left till S2, S1, and D2 have joined S3 on the left, and a pair (D1 and S4) remain on the right as in fig. 34. The third series of four and two are dealt with again to form the third bottom corner and the corresponding parts of the bottom, sides, and twisted upper border. When the fourth series of four and two has been dealt with, the plaited work will have come right round under the projecting butt connections and behind the starting-point, and we have a bowl-like basket with four corners at the bottom.
The finish is made by passing one of the wefts of the last pair through an interval below the nearest part of the twisted upper border or rim, bringing it over the rim and tying it to the other weft of the pair with a reef-knot. The ends are cut off, and also those of the four, and the kono is complete. (Plate 78, fig. 1.)
The keynote of the work is he wha, he rua (a four and two). When the right-hand weft of the four is bent round it is called ichakapoti (to make a corner). The technique here differs from the usual in that the plaiting works round towards the left.
A larger kono is made by using four full blades instead of three. Two full blades are plaited through the other two at right angles, making four dextral wefts and four sinistral. The right-hand blade of the sinistrals, fourth from the left, is used, as in the former kono, for forming the corner. Commencing then on the right of the approximated seven wefts, each weft is twisted in turn and plaited to the left through the remainder until one is left. We then get the series of seven wefts to the left and one to the right. The next corner is made by taking the fourth weft of the series of seven, counting from the left, and bending it through the three wefts on its left. Commencing again on the right, the wefts are plaited as before until another series of seven and one is arrived at. This is repeated until the four corners are made and the basket is completed. It is finished off by tying and cutting off the ends as before.
By using the fourth weft for turning the corners the kono is the same width at the bottom as the previous one, but the extra material goes into the sides and makes it deeper. If the fifth weft of the left-hand series is used for turning the corners the kono will be wider and shallower.
The kono is for temporary use, and as the butt portion rests upon the bottom and side of the plaitwork the weak portion of the work is secure enough for ordinary purposes. By continuing the plaiting for another corner the overlap on the outside is increased, and the kono rendered more secure. By continuing the plaiting still more a double basket results.
Until comparatively recent times the kono was in universal use. At Maori gatherings I have seen women seated by a heap of flax-blades, turning then out rapidly by the score. When the cooking-ovens were opened the kono were filled with potatoes or kumara, and a share of meat or fish placed on top. They were then carried by women and men singing
appropriate songs with action-dances, and placed before the visitors, one kono sufficing for a couple of guests. The empty kono were gathered and thrown away, fresh ones being so easily and quickly made. European plates and dishes have almost completely ousted them, and they are now rarely seen.
A better class of kono is made with narrower wefts. The turning of the corners, the plaiting, and the upper border are the same as above. At the finish, however, the ends of the wefts are plaited in three-ply along the free edge from below upwards, and the ends continued into a tail which is passed through a weft-interval near the upper border and simply knotted on the inside of the kono, or tied.
The kono has a variety of names, such as paro, konae, rourou, &c. Under the name of rourou it figures in proverbs as the smallest measure of food. Te rourou iti Haere (the little food-basket of the Traveller) is a common expression, and is found in the proverb—
He aha koe i haere mai ai i te rourou iti a Haere?
Te noho atu ai koe i te tokanga nui a Noho?
Why did you come with the little basket of the Traveller?
Why did you not remain with the large basket of Stay-at-home?
This was said by Parewhete in greeting her deserted husband, Wairangi, who had followed her into the midst of numerous enemies with only a small war-party. His life would have been safe had he remained at home in the midst of his powerful tribe, who were the full basket. Instead he had followed with a small handful of men, who were likened to the meagre contents of a rourou. Pakaru-a-te-Rangi, of the Ngati-Kahungunu Tribe, in urging unity and combined effort in peace or war, said:—
Nau ko te rourou, naku ko te rourou, ka ora te manuhiri;
Nau ko te rakau, naku ko te rakau, ka whati te hoariri.
Yours is the small basket of food, mine is the small basket of food; and our guests will be fed,
Yours is the weapon, mine is the weapon, and our enemy will be routed.
The poti (Plate 82, fig. 2) is a four-cornered basket similar in shape and size to the narrow-wefted kono, It was used to contain cooked taro (Colocasia antiquorum) for people of higher rank. Both in deference to the rank of the guest and the quality of the food, better material in the form of bleached white wefts was used. The butt-tufts of the wefts necessitated a different beginning from the kono, and the whole construction differed accordingly.
The beginning, like that of the taka mat, consists in plaiting a single row of wefts, by means of their butt-tufts, into a three-ply braid of 13 in. to 14 in. in length.
The body is usually plaited in a twilled two. The wefts, along the whole length of the braid beginning, are speedily separated into an upper layer of dextrals and a lower layer of sinistrals. Reference to fig. 35 shows that where the two layers cross one another a triangular area is formed, bounded on the left by the left marginal dextral (LMD), and on the right by the right marginal sinistral (RMS). In this area the two sets of crossing wefts are in position for plaiting, and merely need rearrangement by separating the dextrals with the left hand and placing the sinistrals in position with the right. The plaiting is continued for the depth of the basket, 4 in., till the line C1 to C2 is reached. The first left-hand corner is made at C1, by turning back the sinistral weft (CS) which crosses the left marginal
dextral (LMD) at this point. It will be noted that the plaited portion has been narrowed by the converging wefts, LMD and RMS, from 13 in. at the braid beginning (LR) to 6½ in. at the working-edge (C1 to C2). At the same time that the crossing sinistral (CS) is bent at right angles to its course, the left portion of the work (LA) is bent forwards at right angles, and CS is plaited through the disengaged sinistrals on the left. It comes to occupy the dotted line parallel with LMD. The single layer of disengaged sinistrals to the left of CS, by the bending-forward of the portion LA, have now changed their direction and function as dextrals. The sinistrals to the right of CS continue the plaiting through the original dextrals and the left sinistrals, which have joined them. The inner two of the latter have
to be bent in slightly to lie parallel with the left marginal dextral (LMD). By pulling the wefts taut the corner of C1 is defined. As the plaiting proceeds beyond the line C1 and C2, all wefts are bent forwards and downwards at right angles to their previous course. The second corner at C2 is formed by bending back the dextral CD, which crosses the right marginal sinistral (RMS) at this point. The right portion of the plaited work (BR) is also bent forward at right angles, and the disengaged dextrals to the right of CD change direction and function as sinistrals. The crossing dextral (CD) is plaited through them at right angles to its original course, and occupies the dotted course parallel with the right marginal sinistral (RMS).
The dextrals to the left of CD, as the plaiting proceeds, pass through the remaining original sinistrals and the right dextrals which have joined them. The inner two dextrals have to be bent in to lie parallel with the right marginal sinistral (RMS). The tightening-up, as before, defines the first right corner (C2). The plaiting proceeds, and the part beyond C1 to C2 forms the bottom. The sides are also continued by bending the wefts from the bottom surface over at the lines produced forward from the two corners at right angles to the line connecting (C1 to C2). The plaiting continues forward for about 8 in., when the two sides run into the bottom surface through the wefts from the body having no crossing elements to combine with. Fig. 36 shows a side view of the left side of the work. The part of the side completed on the formation of the left corner (C1) was the triangle L A C1. The bottom surface, which of course is not visible, has gone on from C1 to C3. The additional part of the side completed is the triangle L C1 C3. Here the side runs out at C3 because, after crossing the left marginal sinistral weft (LMS), the downward wefts from the bottom surface have no crossing elements to engage. A similar condition exists on the right side, where the right marginal dextral weft (RMD of fig. 35) will run into the bottom surface at a point (C4), corresponding to C3 as C2 did to C1. The points C3 and C4 form the other two corners of the basket. The area between the four corners completes the bottom surface. The corner at C3 is formed by bending back the weft from the bottom surface that crosses the left marginal sinistral (LMS) at C3, and plaiting it through the disengaged wefts to lie parallel with it in the dotted course CW. The wefts from the bottom surface are bent down at right angles at the line connecting the two corners C3 and C4. They continue the end side of the basket, and the appropriate ones follow CW, being bent round to the side as they come below the corner C3 in the dotted line C3 to F. Similarly the side wefts as they reach this line are bent at right angles to engage the wefts in forming the end surface. Similar procedure forms the fourth corner. The changes of direction of the different sets of wefts all fit in, and provide two sets of crossing-elements to complete the end and sides. The plaiting continues until the sides reach the same level as that part bounded by the braided butt-tufts.
The finish is a modified kopetipeti called kopekepeke. With the basket turned on its outer side we have a lower layer of sinistrals and an upper layer of dextrals. Commencing on the left, the sinistrals are twisted on the outer side of the basket with a half-turn at right angles to their former course, brought diagonally across the upper border, and bent to run downwards and to the right. Fig. 37 shows that the first sinistral (S1), in its new course on the inside, passes over the first dextral it meets (D1), whilst the next dextral (D2) is lifted over it. The first dextral (D1) to reach the edge is now bent over at right angles, and the next sinistral (S2) is twisted over with it. This double weft passes over the first dextral it meets (D2) and the next dextral (D3) is lifted over it. When the dextral D3 is lifted, the sinistral to its left (S1) is twisted upwards at right angles and, passing under D3, continues upwards with it as a double weft. From now on the upward wefts are double, formed of the dextral and the descending sinistral on its left, which is bent upwards as above. The next dextral at the edge (D2) is bent back at right angles and accompanied downwards by the next sinistral (S3). They cross the double weft (D3-S1) and pass under the next dextral (D4), which on being lifted is joined by the sinistral on the left (S2). In the next series from the edge, the double weft (D3-S1)
is bent back with the next sinistral (S4). From now on the down wefts consist of three elements, the double up-weft being joined by a fresh sinistral after being turned at the edge. The triple weft, after passing under D5 with its sinistral addition S3, drops the two older elements which formed the up-weft (D3-S1), whilst the latest sinistral element (S4) is turned upwards with the dextral on the right (D6). It is thus seen that the sinistrals which form the upper edge by covering the dextrals are firmly fixed by having a double zigzag course. The edge is completed on the right by plaiting the last wefts into a three-ply braid and tying it to the end of the plaited butt-tufts. The projecting ends of the wefts are cut off, and loops of twisted flax-fibre may be fixed to the rim on either side as handles.
Satchels, or Kete.—Kete are divided into kete tatahi (open-plaited) and kete puputu (closely plaited). The latter are also called kete pae. Open-plaited baskets are made from natural wefts, and closely plaited ones from white and dyed wefts.
(a.) Kete tatahi (open-plaited satchels): These are the ordinary rough baskets in everyday use. They are of all sizes, and are used for so many purposes that it is difficult to imagine the Maori being without them. All kinds of food, from kumara and taro to fern-root and forest berries, were
collected in them. In recent times seed-potatoes were often stored away in special baskets with a wide weft. In gathering shell-fish, baskets with three handles on either side were used, the end pairs for tying with flax around the waist, whilst the middle pair was pulled apart to admit the supplies obtained. This was, of course, in water; and the same was done in some forms of fishing. Dried and cooked inanga were stored in them. Food-supplies, on the march, were packed in baskets and carried on the back. Karaka (Corynocarpus laevigata) berries, after being cooked, were steeped in water in baskets made of kiekie. Large calabashes containing preserved pigeon often had baskets plaited round them, and were finished off with long handles for facilitating transport. Kelp bags containing mutton-birds (Puffinus griseus) were covered with totara bark and the base fitted into a basket. Even the shorter lengths of drift firewood were collected in kete, and in the excavation of fosses for their fortifications the earth was carried away in them.
The beginning consists in plaiting the butt-tufts of the wefts in a three-ply, the wafts being added alternately from either side to the ply that goes to the middle. This process, as in the taka mat, is called whiri. The commencement of the whiri is the same as (b) and (c) in the taka mat (pp. 717–18). Fig. 13 shows the butt-tuft of weft 1 crossing that of weft 3 to the middle. In the basket commencement, the tuft of a
fourth weft added on the right is brought over with tuft 1, and as tuft 2 is twisted over them another weft is added on the left, and its tuft brought over to the middle with tuft 2. The addition from either side is continued to the required length of the basket, and the ends of the tufts plaited on, knotted with an overhand knot. The more common commencement, however, is (c). Three short pieces of flax are knotted with an overhand knot, and then plaited in three-ply for about 1 in., when the butt-tufts are added alternately on either side to the strand that crosses to the middle position. The crossings are kept from unravelling by the thumb and fingers of the left hand, whilst the right adds the fresh wefts and twists the tufts. On the surface towards the worker the overlapping wefts on either side come close together, but on the under-side the crossings of the butt-tufts show as a thick fibrous cord between the two even rows of wefts (fig. 39).
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In the smallish-sized basket I am describing, the length of this plaited keel (see Plate 79) is 18 in., the depth in the middle 10 in., at either end 8 in., and the number of wefts on each side is sixty-eight. The wefts in the dry condition average 3/16 in. in width.
The body in these rough baskets is practically always plaited with a check stroke. Turning the work towards her with the keel lying transversely, the plaiter speedily crosses the alternate wefts close to the keel. Commencing from the left on one side, if the direction of the wefts is towards the right it is obvious that alternate wefts must be bent close to the keel at right angles to their course to provide the sinistral wefts. As in all this work the plaiting proceeds in widths from the left towards the right, the dextrals form the upper layer and the sinistrals the lower. The plaiting proceeds exactly as in the check mats, except that wefts are not turned in to the body at either edge as they pass the marginal crossing weft. Thus a plaited triangle occurs, for the reason described in the poti basket. The marginal wefts of the triangle are, in a neat manner, kept from coming loose. If the weft is a dextral, the free end of a sinistral that passes under it at the spot likely to become loosened is looped back over
it, and the loop passed under a crossing dextral on the plaited portion. A pull on the end of the sinistral disengages the loop when work in this part is to be continued. If the weft to be restrained is a sinistral, then of course a dextral is looped back in a similar manner. This method is also used with a working-edge when work is discontinued for a time.
The work is now turned and the triangle plaited on the other side. The next step is to fill in the space between the triangles which form the ends of the basket. The two sides are bent up so that the raised ridge formed by the plaited butt-tufts is inside. Holding it with the end towards one, it will be readily seen that the disengaged sinistrals from the right side can be brought round to engage the disengaged dextrals from the left side. In this case the dextrals on the left are separated in the usual way and the first sinistral from the right placed in position. The dextrals are reversed and the second sinistral from the right placed between. Continuing this procedure, the gap is filled up (tutaki) from the bottom until it reaches the level of the sides. Of course, the wefts are bent round in the vertical line from the end of the keel but as the material is so pliable this causes no
trouble. The wefts on each side being equal, they fill up the space naturally, the worker being careful to draw them taut. The other end is done in a similar manner, and the basket is complete except for the finish. This method of dealing with the ends results in a basket with a straight and narrow bottom. The usual method, however, is to make four corners at the bottom. The technique of the corner is shown in fig. 40. Here the left end of the right side is shown with the original sinistrals shaded and the dextrals plain. On the completion of the side triangle the marginal dextral (D1) marked the edge of the completed work. The worker decides on the width for the bottom and selects the appropriate sinistral, in this case the fourth. The fourth sinistral from the end (S4) is accordingly bent back (ka whatiia) into the body of the work beyond the marginal dextral (D1), runs parallel with it, and functions as a dextral. The next sinistral to the right (S5) is bent in the opposite direction, and it and the following sinistrals continue to function as sinistrals. The sinistrals to the left of the key weft (S4) follow S4 and function as dextrals. Tightening up S4, S5, and D1 tilts up the left end of the foundation-keel and sharply defines the corner at the crossing-place of these three wefts. The tilting-up
of the keel and the change of direction keeps the sinistrals on the left of the figure close together, although in the diagram they are shown somewhat apart. On the left triangle the same procedure is carried out, but of course it must be the fourth dextral that is turned back into the body of the work. The gap is now filled with the disengaged wefts, which have arranged themselves into dextrals and sinistrals. The corners are made at the other end, always remembering that it is the fourth of the series that projects beyond the margin of the completed triangle that is the key weft. If a wider bottom is desired, the fifth or sixth weft may be taken as the key weft; but whichever it is, the same number must be adhered to for all four corners or the basket will be awry and the gaps will not fill in properly (e kore e tutaki). In these baskets the keel curves up at each end, making the middle deeper than the two ends (see Plate 80). The depth at the middle is increased by the weight of the contents pulling directly on the handles which are attached to the middle of the upper border.
The finish is made by plaiting the weft-ends with a three-ply plait. The wefts are picked up in fours usually, two dextrals and two sinistrals. Starting usually at one end, the wefts that run in the same direction as the plait are taken together into the lower ply, whilst the other two are bent back and taken into the next ply that crosses it. On reaching the starting-point one of the plies is passed round the first part, and then, rejoining the other two, they are run out in a free braid and the end knotted. This tail is threaded through the side of the basket and the end left inside. Owing to two wefts of the series of four being bent back, holes are left under the braided upper border between the fours. These are useful for threading flax or a rope through to keep in the contents of a full basket. I saw an old lady one morning dropping a single weft from the upper border and then incorporating it farther on, thus making a series of long loops which looked rather untidy. On asking her the reason, she smiled and said, “That is my earmark.” Thus one often sees little differences in the plaiting of the upper border, which, if they have no constructional reason, are probably the private marks of careful old ladies for recognizing their property and saving argument.
The handles are put on us the upper border is being plaited. They consist of loops of a three-ply plait of natural wefts about 8 in. long and 4 in. to 5 in. apart where the ends are fixed to the upper border. The upper border is plaited to the middle of the side and the weft material for the handle passed through one of the holes under the border 2½ in. from the middle. The two ends of the handle-material are drawn together, forming a loop round the border, and the wefts divided into three equal parts. The three divisions are plaited in three-ply for 8 in. and then the upper border is plaited on for another 2½ in. The ends of the handle-wefts are now merged with the wefts of the upper border, which is continued on to the other side, where the second handle is affixed in the same manner. In some baskets three or more handles of a similar type are made on each side. These are used in lashing over fern or other covering-material to protect the contents.
Baskets made of cordyline-leaves are made in a similar manner. The wefts are much narrower, but permit of the butt ends being scraped to admit of the whiri beginning at the bottom. The completed basket is usually dyed black or considerably darkened by submerging in swampmud.
(b.) Kete puputu, or kete pae (closely plaited satchels): This class of basket obtains its name from being plaited closely together and leaving no spaces between the wefts. They were used for containing more valued possessions, and not for rough work. In these days the older women are usually seen carrying a small one to contain their pipe, tobacco, and matches, so that they correspond to the modern civilized woman's handbag for holding her purse, handkerchief, vanity-box, and cigarette-case. Prepared wefts in white and black are used, and another generic name for the class is putea. They are made in all sizes. Plain white baskets are made with the same, twilled stroke throughout, or plain designs are worked by changing the stroke. Geometrical designs in black, white, and yellow had full play. In some cases the entire basket was made of black wefts, and in others diagonal bands of white, running in the same direction or crossing, were made by introducing four or six white wefts at regular intervals along the keel. White baskets in a similar way were made with narrow diagonal bands of black or yellow. Some were made entirely of pingao, and the wefts being narrow resulted in a neat golden-coloured basket. By plaiting the foundation-keel with every alternate weft black and the others white, or making all the sinistrals one colour and the dextrals another, the entire surface of the basket could be covered with coloured designs in zigzag lines, triangles, and lozenges. Owing to the smaller surface, neater work and a greater variety of design was possible than in the porera mats. In the earlier days of colonization the making of these baskets was one of the principal sources of income to the womenfolk, and they vied with one another in plaiting complicated coloured designs so as to command a readier sale. They were freely hawked about the towns, but nowadays the few remaining skilled workers have to be sought out and a special order placed in order to obtain them. As in the case of the porera mats, the coloured wefts formed an essential part of the structure of the basket; whereas in the Polynesian baskets I have seen, from Niue Island, the coloured elements are overlaid, as in the case of their mats. The various coloured designs must be postponed for treatment with those of the porera mats. A splendid assortment of these baskets is figured in Hamilton's Maori Art, vol. 4, Plate 44.
The beginnings, in the district under discussion, consist of two forms :—
(a.) The whiri beginning, as in the case of the open-plaited baskets, consisted of plaiting the wefts into a three-ply braid, with the difference that the wefts were added in pairs instead of singly. For the same length of keel there was thus double the number of wefts. This resulted in the close plaiting that distinguished it from the other class. Care was also exercised in eliminating enough of the narrower butt ends to ensure the wefts being of even width throughout their working-length.
(b.) The porera beginning was used with some of the baskets whose whole surface was covered with coloured designs. The undivided butt portions were used to lock the beginning-edge, and the wefts were interlaced and divided into dextrals and sinistrals. All the coloured butt portions pointed in one direction and the uncoloured in the other. This beginning was plaited for twice the length required for the keel.
The body of the basket, after the whiri beginning (a), was plaited in exactly the same manner as in the rough baskets, but the stroke was usually a twilled two. Some were plaited with a check stroke throughout, and others again with combinations of check and twill. The geometrical patterns involved the introduction of twilled threes, fours, or fives. The
plaiting of the side triangles, the filling-in of the ends, and the formation of the bottom corners were the same as before.
With the porera beginning (b), a whara or section was plaited to the depth required for the basket, as if making a porera, but at the ends the disengaged wefts were left free. The two ends were then brought together and the disengaged sinistrals of one end were interplaited with the disengaged dextrals of the other, in exactly the same manner as filling in the ends of the rough baskets. The sides and ends of the basket were thus completed, leaving a fringe of weft-ends at the upper border and a fringe of undivided butt portions at the lower. No bottom corners were made.
The finish, at the upper border, was made in four ways :—
(1.) Whiri toru: The weft-ends were plaited in three-ply, but more carefully and neatly than in the rough baskets.
(2.) Whiri tuamaka: This was a four-ply plait at the upper border which made a rounder plait and gave a neater finish than the three-ply.
(3.) Kopetipeti, or kopekepeke: As already described in the section on mats.
(4.) Whakakitaratara: This finish results in the upper border having a serrated appearance, from the wefts being plaited into a series of triangles with the apices upwards. The usual working-number of wefts to each
triangle is three sinistrals and three dextrals. The plaiting is done on the inner surface of the basket, and commences from the left. The first dextral (D1) is looped by bringing the end back on its own course. The first sinistral (S1) crosses above the doubled first dextral. The second dextral (D2) is also looped, and the second sinistral passed through its loop, passed under, round, and over the doubled first dextral, and back along its former course over the second dextral, and then under both parts of the third dextral (D3), which is looped. The third sinistral (S3) passes over the third dextral, through the loop of the second dextral, through the loop of the first dextral, back over the returning part of the first dextral, through the loop of the second dextral again, and over the third dextral. The ends of the first and second dextrals and the second and third sinistrals are drawn taut, and the triangle sharply defined (fig. 41).
The free part of the triangle really consist of these four wefts, as the other two assist in the formation of the bases of the triangles on either side. Thus reference to the above figure shows that S1 corresponds to S3 in the previous triangle, and D3 to D1 in the following; or, as the Maori instructress said, “The third weft in this tooth will form the first weft in the next tooth.” The triangles having being completed round
the upper border, the upper layer of dextral wefts are secured by a three-ply plait, whilst the under layer of sinistrals, which is more secure, is cut off evenly without further plaiting.
One or more rows of these serrations were often plaited on the body of the basket for ornamentation. These were innovations; but the old women maintained that the whakakitaratara finish at the upper border is ancient. It is the common finish of Niue Island baskets.
The porera finish is given to the baskets commenced with the porera beginning. The upper border is finished in any of the above four ways. The basket is then turned inside out and finished at the bottom by splitting the undivided butt ends into their component wefts and joining the wefts of the two sides in a modified porera join.
The handles are made of prepared flax-fibre twisted into a two-ply cord. One end is looped through the upper border of the basket, whilst the other end is tied in a knot over the border. In some cases this end is simply passed from the outside through an interspace between the wefts and knotted on the inside, making a very weak finish.