Cloak. Made of flax. With tufts of dog hair. Taniko border.

Place details: OCEANIA POLYNESIA. New Zealand / Cultural Group: Maori: Local Name: kaitaka Materials: Flax (NZ) Plant / Dog Hair Animal / Animal Fur Skin / Plant Fibre Textile / Animal Hide Skin / ?. Processes: Covered / Woven / Knotted / Twisted / Perforated / ?. Dimensions: Max L [excluding tassels] = 1270 mm Max W = 1780 mm Field Collector: Tupaia?; Joseph Banks? When Collected: Between October 1769 and March 1770 Other Owners: Tupaia?; Joseph Banks; by 16 January 1773, 'Dr Lee's Trustees', Christ Church, Oxford [JC 20 11 2002; JC 4 5 2005] PRM Source: Christ Church, Oxford Acquired: Transferred (loaned?) 1886.

KEYWORD: Cloak / CLASS: Clothing / Textile / ?.

Object description: The kaupapa (body) of the kaitaka is muka (prepared New Zealand flax fibre), twined in whato ahu rua technique (two-pair weft-twining). The whenu warps measure 6 per cm, with 11-25 mm gaps between each aho weft; the aho are closer together at the top and bottom of the cloak. The muka fibre is mostly untwisted, apart from in the last four whenu warps nearest the plaited edge, where the fibres are tightly twisted together, and several tightly twisted cords in many of the whenu warps. The commencement is at the top of the cloak. A cord of twisted natural and dark brown dyed muka fibre has been incorporated into what appears to be a selvage commencement, where the ends of the whenu warps are bent over and secured by the aho. Two rows of close-packed two-pair weft-twining rows are present beyond the cord edge. Shaping rows, aho poka, are present in the construction of the cloak. Aho rows 14, 24, 36, 49 and 50 are short rows. There is a taniko border at the bottom of the cloak, which begins after three rows of close-packed two-pair weft twining. The border is 90 mm wide, measured from the top of the patterned border to the bottom of the cloak. The taniko is black, dark brown, and natural coloured muka, measuring 9-10 whenu per cm. The taniko decoration is spilt into five panels, with additional designs at the edges. The outer and central panels have a geometric pattern based on diamonds, while the intermediate two panels are plain black, with an upper and lower border of triangles. A zig-zag motif is used as a terminating device at each end of the border. The geometric designs are worked in three colours, black, brown, and natural. Tags of dog skin, some without hair, are attached to the bottom of the taniko border with a cord of twisted muka fibre. The fibre is passed through the cloak, and the lengths of skin held in position with half-hitch knots. The left border of the cloak, seen as the cloak was woven from the top down, is made up of a flat ribbon plaited of brown and natural-coloured muka, worked to form a geometric design. This is attached to the cloak by every aho weft. The right border is formed from a three-ply cord of dyed and twisted muka fibre. Each ply is attached it the cloak in turn by an aho weft, meaning that each ply of the cord is attached every third aho row. [JU 27/11/2013]

Publications history, trails & websites: Listed as No. 12 in 'Appendix: Description of Individual Garments' on page 63 of The Maori Mantle, by H. Ling Roth, Halifax: Bankfield Museum (1923), where it is described as follows: 'No. 12. Fig. 48. Mantle "From Dr. Pope's Box." Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford. The box of Dr. Pope, of Christ Church, contained other articles dating back to the early part of the XIXth century. The mantle is furnished at the bottom with short strips of skin both with and without hair on. There is no worsted of any sort.' See also detailed sketch published as figure 48 on page 70. See also detailed dimensions in table on page 120. [JC 26 4 2001]

For an account of the collection of which this is a part, see 'An Interim Report on a Previously Unknown Collection from Cook's First Voyage: The Christ Church Collection at the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford', by Jeremy Coote, in Journal of Museum Ethnography, no. 16 (2004), pp. 111-21. This item is listed on page 117 and illustrated in black and white as Plate 3 on page 114. (Copy of article in RDF: Biographies: Banks.) [JC 8 4 2004]

Listed on page 23 and illustrated in colour (detail only) as Figure 1 on page 6 of Curiosities from the Endeavour: A Forgotten Collection—Pacific Artefacts Given by Joseph Banks to Christ Church, Oxford after the First Voyage, by Jeremy Coote (Whitby: Captain Cook Memorial Museum, 2004). (Copies of exhibition leaflets, poster, catalogue, etc. in RDF: Biographies: Banks.) [JC 14 4 2004; JC 25 6 2004]

See also 'Curiosities from the Endeavour: A Forgotten Collection', by Jeremy Coote, The Friends of the Pitt Rivers Museum Newsletter, no. 49 (July 2004), pp. 6-7. (Copy in RDF: Biographies: Banks.) [JC 1 9 2004]

See also 'Uncovered: "Lost" Treasures from the South Seas', by Julie Webb, in Limited Edition [supplement to the Oxford Times], number 215 (December 2004), pp. 31-33. (Copy in RDF: Biographies: Banks.) [JC 15 12 2004]

See also 'Forgotten Treasures from Cook's First Voyage', by Jeremy Coote and Sophie Forgan, in Cook's Log, Vol. XXVII, no. 2 (April 2004), pp. 4-6. (Copy in RDF: Biographies: Banks.) [JC 25 6 2004]

Illustrated in black and white (detail only) on page 8 of The Friends of the Pitt Rivers Museum Newsletter, no. 50 (October 2004), where it illustrates 'A Friend from Downunder' by Hugh Kawharu. [JC 13 10 2004]

Listed as catalogue number 177 and illustrated in colour on page 169 of James Cook and the Exploration of the Pacific, by Adrienne l. Kaeppler et al. (London: Thames & Hudson, 2009) with the caption: '177 Cloak kaitaka | New Zealand, by March 1770 | Flax, dogskin, 178 x 127 cm | Christ Church, Oxford (courtesy of Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, 1886.21.20) | Given by Joseph Banks to Christ Church, Oxford after the first voyage. A fine cloak with a taniko border edged in places with narrow strips of dog-skin. This may be the cloak Banks is wearing in the portrait by Benjamin West. J[eremy].C[oote]. [FB 09/04/2013]

For an account of the history of the collection of which this is part, see 'The Cook-Voyage Collections at Oxford, 1772–1775', by Jeremy Coote, in Jeremy Coote (ed.), Cook-Voyage Collections of 'Artificial Curiosities' in Britain and Ireland, 1771–2015 (MEG Occasional Paper No. 5), Oxford: Museum Ethnographers Group (2015), pp. 74–122. Illustrated in black and white as Figure 2 on page 77. (Copy in RDF: Researchers: Jeremy Coote (Cook-Voyage Collections).) [JC 9 6 2016]

Research notes: Given that (1) there seems to be no evidence as to how or why Dr Pope acquired material from the Pacific, and (2) the recent discovery that Joseph Banks gave a collection of Pacific material from Captain Cook's first voyage (1768-1771) to Christ Church before January 1773, I am tentatively ascribing all the Pacific material formerly ascribed to Dr Pope, to the Banks' collection. I assume that the authorities at Christ Church found this material in the 1880s and that, having no knowledge of the Banks collection, ascribed it to the North American collection of Dr Pope that had recently been transferred from Christ Church to the PRM. [JC 20 11 2002, 16 12 2003]

Thought perhaps to be the cloak worn by Joseph Banks in the portrait painted by Benjamin West. If so, it is discussed in detail on pages 62-3 of 'Traditional Maori Dress: Recovery of a Seventeenth-Century Style?', by Patricia Wallace, in Pacific Arts, new series, Vol. I (2006), pp. 54-64. [JC 27 7 2006]

In his essay 'Footprints in the Sand: Banks's Maori Collection, Cook's First Voyage 1768-71' (in Discovering Cook's Collections, edited by Michelle Hetherington and Howard Morphy (Canberra: National Museum of Australia, 2009), pp. 92-111), Paul Tapsell raises the possibility that the cloak worn by Banks in the famous portrait by Benjamin West may have been presented by Maori to Tupaia (Tupaea in Maori) and only subsequently acquired by Banks, either by gift from Tupaia or by appropriation from Tupaia's 'estate' after his death in Batavia in 1770. Tapsell does not explicitly state that the cloak worn by Banks for the portrait is the present one, but his suggestion that such a cloak is likely to have been presented to Tupaia would apply to the present cloak whether or not it can be identified as the one worn in the portrait. [JC 6 8 2010]

In 1978, David Simmons recorded the holdings of Māori material in a number of museums in Europe and North America including, in May 1978, the Pitt Rivers Museum. (For copies of his notes and related correspondence, see RDF: Researchers: Simmons.) In 1996, Simmons put together the ‘draft catalogues’ he had prepared, depositing copies in, at least, the National Library of New Zealand / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa and the British Museum. The ‘draft catalogue’ of the Māori material in the PRM, which includes photocopies of some of the relevant catalogue index cards and annotations supplied by PRM assistant curator Lynne Williamson in 1982, was included in ‘Draft Catalogues of Maori Material in English Museums II. Prepared by David Simmons from records made in 1978… Compiled in Auckland in 1996’. It is now widely accepted that Simmons’s assertions about the provenance and history of individual Māori objects are not to be trusted without further evidence and/or documentation. Nevertheless, as the entries in this document have been referred in the literature, in July 2016 I obtained from the British Museum scans of the pages devoted to the PRM’s collections (numbered by hand as pages 43 to 62), printing out a copy for the RDF. For the entry for this object, see page 49 (page 5 on Simmons's original list). See also entry on page 48 (not in Simmons's original list). [JC 28 7 2016][JC 28 7 2016]