1886.1.1134

Cloak of fibre obtained from the cabbage tree, previously ornamented with feathers, of which only the quills remain. [JC 7 4 2011] [JU 13/12/2013]

Place details: OCEANIA POLYNESIA. New Zealand / Dusky Bay (Sound) . Cultural Group: Maori: Local Name: kahu huruhuru Materials: Flax (NZ) Plant? / Bird Feather / Bird Skin / ?. Processes: Finger Woven / ?. Colour: Brown Dimensions: W = 1880 mm Field Collector: Johann Reinhold Forster and/or George Forster When Collected: Possibly 19 April 1773; certainly 1773 or 1774 (between 26 March and 11 May 1773, or between 18 May and 7 June 1773, or between 3 November and 25 December 1773; or between 16 October and 10 November 1774) Other Owners: Johann Reinhold Forster and George Forster; from late January 1776, Ashmolean Museum PRM Source: Ashmolean Museum Acquired: Transferred 19 April 1886 Other Numbers: Forster 102

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

Object description: The cloak is made from a coarse textured fibre, obtained from the cabbage tree (ti kouka, Cordyline australis). The cloak is twined in the whato aho patahi technique (single-pair weft-twining) with 3-4 whenu warps per cm. The aho weft rows are between 10 and 12 mm apart. The commencement is at the top of the cloak. Each whenu warp bundle of fibres has been folded over a single horizontal cord, and held in place with the first aho row. Each folded bundle forms one whenu warp thread. The top has been finished with a length of cord made from twisted NZ flax, which has been looped through the whatu weft just under the commencement cord at intervals of 2-4 cm and tied. The bottom edge of the cloak has been finished with a fringe. This is partly formed from the ends of the whenu warps, but additional bundles of fibres have been added to the fringe, doubled over and held by the last aho weft, so that each bundle of fibres forms two additional fringe elements. These added elements form a decorative top edge to the fringe. The side edges of the cloak have been finished with plaits made from bundles of the same plant fibre as used for the warps, held in place by the aho weft rows. The remains of feather shafts are present on the cloak. Many of these are associated with fragments of bird skin. These appear to have been tied to lengths of plied fibre of fibre running parallel to the whenu warps, and added, as Ling Roth noted, every 8 to 12 warps, or closer together in some areas (see page 87 of The Maori Mantle, by H. Ling Roth (Halifax: Bankfield Museum, 1923)). Some skin strips , however, have been bent in half and are held by the aho wefts, and some insertions appear to have been just feathers, without associated skin fragments. [JU 19/11/2013]

Publications history, trails & websites: Mentioned on page 57 of Whatu Kākahu / Maori Cloaks, Awhina Tamarapa, ed. (Wellington: Te Papa Press, first published 2011, revised 2019). 'Red-feathered garments are recorded in oral traditions, and were observed by members of Cook's first voyage. The first documented garment that has feathers inserted into the kaupapa is a kahu huruhuru in the Forster Collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, and was recorded as "a feathered Coat, made of the N.Z. flax, & interwoven with parrots & ducks feathers: this from Dusky Bay". (Fn 24) Collected around 1774 by the naturalist Reinhold Forster and his son George, this early garment has few remaining feathers.' (Fn 24, page 202: Peter Gathercole, From the Islands of the South Seas, 1773-4: An Exhibition of a Collection Made on Capn Cook's Second Voyage of Discovery by J.R. Forster - A Short Guide, Oxford: Pitt Rivers Museum, n.d. [1970]. This kahu huruhuru is #102 from George Forster's 'Catalogue of Curiosities sent to Oxford', 'New Zeeland', p. 6, projects.prm.ox.ac.uk/forster/MSViewer/indexMS.html; see also, the Pitt Museum [sic] catalogue, (accession number PRM 1886.1.1134) projects.prm.ox.ac.uk/forster/home.html (both accessed 4 May 2011).' [MOBB 6/11/2019]

Listed as one of numbers 236-257 on page 185 of A Catalogue of the Ashmolean Museum Descriptive of the Zoological Specimens, Antiquities, Coins, and Miscellaneous Curiosities (Oxford, 1836): 'South Sea Islands etc. 236–257. Specimens of New Zealand matting, and cloths of flax.' [JC 21 8 2008]

Listed as No. 41 in 'Appendix: Description of Individual Garments' on page 87 of The Maori Mantle, by H. Ling Roth, Halifax: Bankfield Museum (1923), where it is described as follows: 'No. 41. Fig. 68. Feather Cloak, No. 102. Capt. Cook Collection, Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford. The inset at the right hand corner is peculiar. There are three interpolated twined rows at the extreme lower right hand corner commencing at definite warps, thus: the 97th row begins at the 89th warp, the 103rd at the 37th warp, and the 106th at the 28th warp. There are 109 rows on the left hand side, and down the middle, and 112 on the right hand side. The shape of the garment is also peculiar and almost like that of an enlarged tippet. The fringe at the bottom is composed partly of warp ends, and partly of special tags. There is no sign of any worsted decoration. / It is a coarse open piece of work, at one time ornamented with feathers, the remains of the quills of which are seen in the knots on special sustaining bands, laid between every 8 or 12 warps, and quite different from the feather attachments on any of the other feather cloaks I have been able to examine. The principle seems to be the same as that in use on the Hawaiian feather cloaks, where the feathers are held in the same way by sustaining bands, with this difference that the Maori ground work is twined while the Hawaiian ground work is netted. The feathers appear to have been eaten away long ago. There are two sorts of knots as shown, but I cannot be sure that the second one is a feather carrier. It is altogether an exceptional garment.' See also detailed sketch published as figure 68 on page 89. See also detailed dimensions in table on page 121. [JC 12 3 1999]

Listed according to the 'Forster list' numbering system in 'From the Islands of the South Seas 1773–4: An Exhibition of a Collection Made on Capn. Cook's Second Voyage of Discovery by J. R. Forster—A Short Guide, by Peter Gathercole (Oxford: Pitt Rivers Museum, no date [1970]): '102. a feathered Coat, made of the N.Z. flax, & interwoven with parrots & ducks feathers: this from Dusky Bay. The specimen marked 102 does not tally with this. It is made of a coarse flax, with a fringe along the lower edge. There are no feathers. It seems then that the localization to Dusky Bay (Sound) cannot be accepted without more evidence. Width: 188 cm.' NB The doubts Gathercole expresses here are not well founded. As Roth (see above) notes, this was 'at one time ornamented with feathers, the remains of the quills of which are seen'. [NMM, undated; JC 29 5 2000, 21 8 2008]

Listed as number 14 under ‘New Zealand...Cloaks’ on page 171 of 'Artificial Curiosities': Being an Exposition of Native Manufactures Collected on the Three Pacific Voyages of Captain James Cook, R.N. at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, January 18, 1978–August 31, 1978 on the Occasion of the Bicentennial of the European Discovery of the Hawaiian Islands by Captain Cook—January 18, 1778 (Bernice P. Bishop Museum Special Publication 65), by Adrienne L. Kaeppler (Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1978): '14-19. Six cloaks, Oxford (102–107). Evidence: Forster collection. Second voyage. Literature: Gathercole, n.d. (1970) [see above]'. [JC 29 5 2000]

Published as part of the Forster Collection on a dedicated website at www.prm.ox.ac.uk/forster (from February 2001). [JC 7 7 2005]

Discussed on page 57 of 'Ko te Pūtaiao, te Ao o ngā Tūpuna: Ancestral Māori Scientific Practice', by Patricia Wallace, in Awhina Tamarapa (ed.), Whatū Kākahu / Māori Cloaks. Wellington: Te Papa Press (2011), pp. 44-59, 182-3: 'Red-feathered garments are recorded in oral traditions, and were observed by members of Cook's first voyage. The first documented garment that has feathers inserted into the kaupapa is a kahu huruhuru in the Forster Collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford and was recorded as: "a feathered Coat, made of the N.Z. flax, & interwoven with parrots & ducks feathers: this from Dusky Bay". Collected around 1774 by the naturalist Reinhold Forster and his son George, this early garment has few remaining feathers.' [JC 31 12 2012]

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. (Copy in RDF: Researchers: Jeremy Coote (Cook-Voyage Collections).) [JC 9 6 2016]

Research notes: In his Journal, Reinhold Forster records how at Dusky Bay/Sound on 19 April 1773, he was presented with a cloak by a local Maori man: 'I went over and he nosed me & immediately gave me an Ahoo round my Shoulders & some ropeyarn [sic] of his own making...'; see page 258 of Volume II of The Resolution Journal of Johann Reinhold Forster, 1772–1775, edited by Michael E. Hoare (London: The Hakluyt Society, 1982, Second Series, No. 153). The editor, Hoare, comments in a footnote (same page): 'This kahu is possibly the specimen in the Oxford collection'. (See also a brief discussion of this event in ‘Dusky Sound 1773’, by Peter Gathercole, in Baessler-Archiv, n.s., Vol. XLV (1997; Special Issue, edited by Markus Schindlbeck, ‘Gestern und Heute—Tradition in der Südsee: Festschrift zum 75. Geburtstag von Gerd Koch’), pp. 131–43.) [JC 29 5 2000]

During a research visit on 26-27 July 2010, Ruth Port and Mandy Sunlight, both of whom are teachers of Maori weaving and plaiting, said that the cloak is woven in whatu aho patahi = single pair twined. They are also said that the colour and texture of the material do not look right for flax, and that it may possibly be made of kouka = cabbage tree, which produces a stronger fibre than flax. [MJD 06/08/2010; JC 7 4 2011]

A sample of the plant material from the cloak was given to Caroline Cartwright of the Conservation and Scientific Research Department at the British Museum, for identification. [JU 13/12/2012] The samples were identified as being from the cabbage tree (Cordyline australis) See RDF for report [JU 13/12/2013]

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 44. [JC 28 7 2016]