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Art in the Wharenui

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The textile blog: Kowhaiwhai - Maori Rafter Patterns. Kowhaiwhai is a form of Maori decoration that takes the form of abstract curved pattern work.

the textile blog: Kowhaiwhai - Maori Rafter Patterns

These painted decorative patterns usually portrayed in traditional colours of red, white and black, are often placed within Maori meeting houses. The rafters of these houses are covered in Kowhaiwhai work. However, this form of decoration was never limited in the past to meeting houses as the pattern work could be found on a number of objects from water carriers to canoes. It is interesting to note that this form of decoration is very closely allied in some respects at least, to both woodcarving and tattoo work, which it does resemble in many ways. However, this form of painted decoration, by its very nature, does not have the same permanence as woodcarving or tattooing and is often seen as purposely transitory.

Much of the pattern work was produced on an amateur basis with no previous experience being strictly necessary. The pattern work has a standard recurring 'curl' as its main motif. – Māori architecture – whare Māori. Ancestral stories Ancestral stories describe how Māori made their buildings, and these structures’ communal functions, relationship to the natural world and symbolic meanings as ancestors, whakapapa (genealogies) and cosmologies.

– Māori architecture – whare Māori

Buildings were part of a Māori cultural landscape where the human and natural worlds were interdependent. – Māori rock art – ngā toi ana. Types of pigment Local geology and regional cultural diversity often influenced the way rock art was made, as well as its subject matter.

– Māori rock art – ngā toi ana

Most South Island Māori rock art was painted in black carbon that was derived from soot then mixed with oil and other ingredients. Works in red paint and raw pigment are also fairly widespread in the South Island, often appearing together with black figures. Some compositions contain multiple colours deliberately applied in a single design. Natural deposits of iron oxide in the land provided red pigment for mixing into paint, or for use in a dry form, and the colours recorded so far range from orange through to deep carmine. Yellow, white and blue pigments were available from clay deposits and other minerals. Ink recipe In 1918 a technique for making black paint for rock art appeared in the Journal of the Polynesian Society.

Relation to other Māori art forms Regional variations Mail art Incised panels Extinct birds How to cite this page: Te Ara Maori Painted Designs. Warning This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A.

Te Ara Maori Painted Designs

H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated. Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara. Painted designs were used by the Maori on the rafters, doors, and windows of buildings, on the under surface of the bows of war canoes, and on cenotaphs. Wood Design The designs on buildings, canoes, and cenotaphs are called kowhaiwhai. Rock Designs Although kowhaiwhai patterns occur in cave paintings, it is more usual to find pictures of birds, fish, reptiles, canoes, and many other designs, some of them very difficult to interpret. Whakairo. acknowledge Kemera Wilson for providing this information.


Kowhaiwhai patterns as well as being decorative are also used for enhancing the story. Nature is often the inspiration for these beautiful and stunning patterns which are often found on the rafters of the meeting houses. Below are some of the common patterns found throughout the Maori world as well as their generic meanings and where they are from. Kaperua From the Tai Rawhiti This pattern represents things doubled. Koiri From the Tai Rawhiti This pattern means to flourish. Kowhaiwhai - Geometry of Aotearoa - What are Kowhaiwhai? TVNZ Doco The Wharenui. TKI Arts Online. Question: What are three customary artforms in the wharenui and what is the cultural and physical relationship between them?

TKI Arts Online

Answer: As your question suggests developing a knowledge and appreciation of Māori Arts relies on also developing a knowledge and sensitivity for Maori cultural practice. Māori Arts such as carving (whakairo), tukutuku (lattice work) and kowhaiwhai designs seen in whare whakairo ( carved meeting houses) have special cultural significance as visual statements reflecting iwi, hapu, and whanau views, history and values. In traditional Māori society all objects or things, alive or inanimate possess mauri- a life force or essence. €œ Maori conceived of the natural world as an outcome of the genealogical process of development from Te Kore (the potential for being) through Te Pō (the night) and Te Mārama (the world of light). Mana atua relates to the power or prestige of Māori gods. Mana atua is also expressed in the pare (door lintels).