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E TOHI, A YOUNG WOMAN OF BARRIER ISLAND.
THIS portrait shews the manner in which the hair is usually worn over the forehead by the unmarried girls of New Zealand. The dress consists of a magnificent Kakahu of strings of rolled flax, dyed black at alternate intervals, and bordered at the top by bosses of scarlet wool; this is worn over a finer description of garment, also made entirely of flax, and ornamented with rolled strings and tufts of wool.
Although formerly the natives used feathers for the decorations of their mats, wool of the gayest colors has long been preferred by them. Blue and scarlet caps, and variegated "comforters," brought by the traders, find a ready market amongst the women, who pick them to pieces to form the tufted ornaments of their dresses.
The outer mat worn by E Tohi, as represented in this plate, is thickly covered with long strips of flax leaves rolled up like tubes, resembling porcupine quills; these dangle from the garment, and produce a loud rustling noise as they jostle together, at every movement of the wearer. These tubes are thus formed: a strip of the flax-leaf is scraped on one side with a sharp mussel-shell, and the epidermis is cut crosswise at intervals, and alternately removed or permitted to remain; the leaf is then steeped in a decoction of hinau bark, and, on being taken out, those portions
from which the epidermis has been removed, exposing the fibre, are dyed of a permanent and glossy black, whilst the parts where the outer covering still remains, having rejected the dye, retain their original yellow color; the strips are then rolled up, and fastened in at intervals with the fabric of the mat.
In the background is a primitive native house, the gable of which is adorned with a grotesque image of the proprietor, on which has been placed a burlesque European hat."
- E Tohi. A young woman of Barrier Island
- Production date
- handcoloured lithograph
- 241 x 216 mm
- Credit line
- Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1964
- Accession no
- Other ID
- 1964/42 Old Accession Number, 1964/15/4/B
- No known copyright restrictions
- New Zealand Art
- Display status
- Not on display
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