Unknown artist, New Zealander, New Zealand
Man’s cloak, 1880-1890
Twined flax with wool pompoms
Length: 196.9 cm (77 1/2 inches)
Gift in memory of Mr. and Mrs. W. Frederick Williams, Jr. by their children 75.026.67
The Maori developed the twining technique upon their sixteenth-century migration to New Zealand from islands further south in the Polynesian Pacific. Both men and women wore twined flax cloaks, although men favored the more embellished and elaborate examples such as this one. Made after the time of contact with the British, this man’s cloak is of the Heike pookinikini type featuring pompoms made from unraveled wool caps traded to the Maori by the British.Fringe of black flax frames the edges of the cloak. Dangling flax strips, either dyed black or left undyed, with the subtle decorative detail of husks at intervals, embellish this traditional Maori cloak. The Maori considered this style to be both prestigious and fashionable. Consequently it was much sought after by European collectors as well.