Maori wood carving essay

Yale University Press, Contains "Select Bibliography" pp. Foreword by James Cuno; Introduction, pp. Princeton University Press; London:

Maori wood carving essay

It is usually known as a waka taua, or war-canoe, though used for other purposes, such as ordinary water excursions.

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It is also known as a waka pitau. Pitau also seems to be applied to a scroll in carving. Pinaku is another name for a war-canoe. Another term, waka whakarei, is applied to a war-canoe, but this name simply serves to mean a canoe adorned with carved designs. Thus we have the terms waka whakarei papatahi a superior, ornamented single canoe ; waka whakarei unua a superior, ornamented double canoe.

The word whakarei seems to refer to carved adornments, or possibly to canoe-adornments generally. It is met with in the expression "Me he pitau whakareia" Williams gives pitau whakareia as denoting "figurehead of a canoe with arms turned backwards," a peculiarity only seen in the more ornate kinds; Maori wood carving essay whakarei as "carved work at the head and stern of a canoe," also "canoe with elaborately carved figurehead, bust and arms.

Of the Maori waka, or canoe, Sir Joseph Banks says in his journal: Some are immensely long. One I saw which the people laid alongside the ship as if to show how much longer she was than Maori wood carving essay canoe fairly reached from the anchor that hung at the bows to quite aft; but, indeed, we saw few so large as that.

All, except a few we saw at Mercury Bay, which were merely trunks of trees hollowed out by fire, were more or less ornamented by carving.

The common fishing canoe had no ornament but the face of a man with a monstrous tongue, whose eyes were generally inlaid with a kind of shell like H. Hamilton, photo mother-of-pearl; but the larger sort, which seemed to be intended for war, were really magnificently adorned.

The head was formed by a plank projecting about three feet before the canoe, and on the stern stood another, proportioned to the size of the canoe, from ten to eighteen feet high. Both these were richly carved with openwork, and covered with loose fringes of black feathers that had a most graceful effect.

The gunnel-boards were also often carved in grotesque taste, and ornamented with white feathers in bunches placed upon a black ground at certain intervals. They sometimes joined two small canoes together, and now and then made use of an outrigger, as is practised in the islands, but this was more common to the southward.

The first remark quoted, as to Maori canoes being built of "very thin planks sewn together," must be looked at askance. Large page 52 canoes had a top-strake plank lashed on the sides to increase their heightbut the evidence tends to show that in most cases only one such top board was attached to the sides of the dugout hull, Occasionally two, secured one above the other in carved fashion, were employed.

Other writers have made similar remarks, but it is improbable that they ever saw more than two rauawa, or top-strakes, on a Maori canoe. Nor were such planks thin ones, but good stout timbers. Of the canoes seen at Poverty Bay this writer says: The bottom was the trunk of a tree hollowed out, and very thin.

This was raised by a board on each side, with a strip of wood sewed over the seam to make it tight. On the prow of every one was carved the head of a man with an enormous tongue reaching out of his mouth.

In speaking of the canoe captured by Cook at Poverty Bay, Parkinson says: This was certainly a common type of craft and no war-canoe. The "planks sewed together" is probably an error: The sail was certainly not a lug-sail in the sense of being a square sail.

Its date of imparts value to it, though it is woefully brief: These boards are called fargues in the navy, and they do not reach as far as the end of the boat.


The point of the boat is covered with a piece of wood, carved so as to fit exactly. They made a groove in this piece of wood, in order to fit it across a board. The fargues are joined to this cross-plank at each end, and keep it in its place.

I saw some boats which did not have these ornaments on the fore part. I believe that these ornaments are a sign of distinction, as I noticed that the chiefs have the ornaments at both ends, and the secondary chiefs only at the front part of the boat.

To raise the boarding they sometimes make use of one or two planks. In the front and hind parts of the canoes are found some pieces of carving. This is somewhat more definite, and possibly some canoes furnished with double top boards were seen.A brief essay on the history of Maori art in New Zealand..

Maori wood carving essay

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The Waka Taua, or War-canoe | NZETC