(4.) The Double-strip Commencement.
This method was shown me by Iehu Nukunuku, of Waiapu, one of the very few surviving musicians who can play the Maori flute. I had mastered the above three methods, and was confident that I had exhausted all local methods of commencement. Whilst practising the closed-loop method one early morning, the dreamy gaze of the musician idly swept my way. Suddenly his eyes became alert. “Ah,” said he, treating me politely as a master-craftsman, “You commence that way !” “Yes,” I affirmed, with the conscious pride of one who has missed nothing. “Oh,” said he, “I do it this way.” Thereupon he picked up two strips of flax, knotted the butt ends together, and demonstrated the double-strip commencement shown in the accompanying figures.
In fig. 15, the upper strip, 1, is looped over the supporting-strand at A and looped again at B. The lower strip, 2, is passed over the loop between A and B. The mesh so formed, x, is stretched to the right size by the left middle finger, the free end of strip 1 is held with the right hand, and the
free end of strip 2 is held with the left thumb and forefinger. The two strips are pulled or slackened until the mesh x is of the right size. The part where the two strips cross is seized with the left thumb and forefinger, and the right makes a netting-knot with strip 2, as in fig. 16. This completes the first mesh, x. Strip 1 is now carried over the supporting-strand at C (fig. 17). It picks up strip 2 in the loop. Inserting the left ring-finger in the loop y, and manipulating the two strips with the other available fingers of the two hands, the two loops b and y are gauged to correspond in size to a and x. The free end of strip 1 is then twisted round the left little finger to keep loop b in position. The point where strip 2 crosses the lower part of loop b is seized with the left thumb and forefinger, and the released right hand ties strip 2 in a netting-knot at this point. The netting-knot will be described in the next paragraph. This procedure is carried on. When the upper loop is gauged, strip 1 is kept taut by twisting it round the
left little finger. This releases the right hand, which now takes the free end of strip 2 from the left forefinger and thumb. The lower loop is now gauged with the left ring-finger, the left middle finger keeping the previously-completed mesh stretched so as to give the lower level for the new lower loop. This being gauged, the released left forefinger and thumb seize the crossing of the two strips, whilst the right hand makes the netting-knot with strip 2. Strip 1 is then released from the left little finger and looped over the supporting-strand, and the same process continued. In this method
a single row of complete meshes is attached directly to the supporting-strand. The method is awkward, and is worse than it reads. Practice makes perfect, no doubt, and in the fingers of Iehu Nukunuku it appeared neat and easy. I had asked my previous informants if there were any other methods, and had been assured that there were none to their knowledge. Possibly if one practised in the early morning with aged musicians or craftsmen looking on, other methods or variations might be resurrected. Therefore it were better to put on record what methods we have than wait for others that we know not of.