[WORLDKINGS] Traditional clothing from around the world – P31 – Piupiu: A highlight in vibrant Māori people culture


(WorldKings.org) Traditional Maori clothing was made mostly from vegetation, animal skins, and natural fibres. Feathers, wood, and stone also played a very important role in the way that Maori of different ranks adorned themselves for various social occasions. Long, thin strips of inner bark were used in some regions to make flexible skirts or capes – such as the piupiu.



The Māori are the indigenous Polynesian people of mainland New Zealand. Māori originated with settlers from eastern Polynesia, who arrived in New Zealand in several waves of waka (canoe) voyages between roughly 1320 and 1350. Over several centuries in isolation, these settlers developed their own distinctive culture, whose language, mythology, crafts and performing arts evolved independently from those of other eastern Polynesian cultures. Some early Māori moved to the Chatham Islands where their descendants became New Zealand's other indigenous Polynesian ethnic group, the Moriori.

The piupiu is worn by both men and women ( and children) for kapa haka, special occasions, etc.  The work involved in making them is long and complex. Piupiu are worn as part of the Maori dance costume, nowadays usually worn over a black skirt ( women) or black shorts (men).



Piupiu are a kind of grass skirt. The waistband is plaited or in some cases made from tāniko. The body of the piupiu is usually made from flax leaves that are carefully prepared with the muka or flax fibre exposed in some sections to cause geometric patterns to emerge. The unscraped leaves will curl naturally into tubes as the leaves dry, and make a percussion sound when the wearer sways or moves. The geometric patterns can be emphasised through dyeing as the dye will soak more into the exposed fibres rather than the dried raw leaf. The only exception to the traditional way these piupiu are made now, is that dyes are used instead of mud, to make the piupiu last longer. 



Beside that, tāniko is a uniquely Māori variation of whatu (twining) and is used to weave the colourful, intricate borders of cloaks. Māori weavers developed tāniko by introducing coloured horizontal threads to the whatu twining technique. They worked out that they could combine full and half twists to bring one or another colour to the front. In this way, they could create intricate geometric patterns.



In cloak-making, tāniko is used only for borders since the weave is too stiff to suit entire garments. Tāniko is also used to make pari (bodices), tīpare (headbands), tāpeka (sashes), tātua (belts), and taonga whakapaipai (jewellery).

Taniko designs that are indigenous to, or have special significance for,  whanau hapu and/or iwi, (extended family, sub-tribe and/or tribe) can often be seen on costumes worn during a cultural presentation or festival.

According to en.wikipedia; multiculturalcoast.com; shopNZ.com

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