Cloak (kakahu), plaited (raranga) strips of black and natural flax (whenu). Four vertical panels of plaited flax (harakeke) in a tartan or chequered pattern (mumu), joined together. Fringing at the joins, sides and lower edge.
- mid 19thC
- Found/Acquired: New Zealand
- (Oceania,Polynesia,New Zealand)
- Width: 125 centimetres
- Height: 97 centimetres
- Height: 110 centimetres (total including fringing)
Illustrated in M. Pendergrast, 'The Fibre Arts' in D.C. Starzecka (ed), 'Maori: Art and culture', London, British Museum Press, 1998, p.126, fig. 85. The caption is:
'Plaited garments, kahahu raranga, are very rare in museum collections and apparently not described by early visitors. They may have always been uncommon. The dress cloak pictured is made in four vertical panels, with decorative fringes added at the joins and edges. A note in the museum register describes it as 'Middle dress of a NZ chief, given to J. Everett by Mr White, a missionary' (possibly Francis White, who arrived in New Zealand in 1835 and died in 1877).'This cloak has been described in a research study by Margaret Jackson 2012 and modern interpretation of this cloak has been created.
This cloak (Oc1921,1014.18) has been woven in the style of a floor mat (whariki). The detrals and sinistrals are arranged in groups of thirteen black and thirteen natural - which create a mumu pattern, representing tribal alliances and marriage.
The panels are joined using one join - on the outside which ensures that the cloak is smooth to wear. The cloak was made by a very skilled weaver.
The chequered or tartan design alludes to a period of contact between Maori and Europeans, a time for great change.
In the 1840s weavers began to experiment with European materials, such as wool.
This cloak is very rare, there are not many in other museum collections and so Margaret carried out this research project. She also made a replica cloak - see eth doc 2002.
1998 27 June-7-1 Nov, London, BM, Maori
20 December 1995
Clean. Remove creases. Straighten fringes. Remove wire. Repair broken section at folds.
Very soiled. Strong folds from storage. Weak areas where dyed flax is very brittle and is prone to splitting. One small area of loss at one fold. Fringing very tangled and soiled. Striped tassels very prone to breaking off where weakened by black dye. Loss of fringing is ongoing. Moth cases found embedded in fringing, although no signs of insect damage. Metal wires applied along top edge, from previous display, causing holes.
Surface cleaned with low powered vacuum suction. Groomstick (processed natural rubber molecular trap) rolled over the surface lifted off further dirt. Creases were removed by gentle humidification using Goretex (polytetrafluoro ethylene,polyester laminate) and glass weights. Repair of hole and strengthening of weak areas in the body of the cloak was carried out using Japanese tissue and an arrowroot starch/sodium alginate paste. Japanese tissue was coloured to match dyed flax fibres, using Liquitex acrylic paints in acrylic matt medium and water. A starch paste was made with 9% arrowroot and 1% sodium alginate, cooked in microwave. The Japanese tissue was cut into strips and the paste applied to one side. The strips of tissue were interwoven across the weak areas. The fringing was cleaned with vacuum suction and detangled manually. Loose tassels were kept as samples rather than being reapplied. The metal wires were removed.
"Purchased from the Treasurer of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society Museum, York."
Africa, Oceania & the Americas
If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Object reference number: EOC15291
British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.
The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.