Thursday, January 28, 2010

From the Kete Files

Harakeke = Flax = Phormium tenax
This common plant (in NZ) was considered by early Maori, to be one of the most valuable non-food products in pre-European times. Maori identified and recognised numerous flax varieties, which they used to make different items. Aside from its use in the making of intricate korowai (cloaks), it was - and still is - most commonly used to weave kete (baskets or kits). The design, size and colour of a kete (and the material used; they are also woven from the leaves of cabbage tree and nikau palm) are as varied as the people making them. I love that about them - that variety and the way the express the individual weaver or artist. In fact, it's fair to say I have a thing about kete. For me they are riddled with connotations of domesticity, handcrafts, food, gathering - all the things I love; and I love photographing them whenever I come upon them. I snapped these ones at the Ngai Tahu Hui-a-Tau in Southland last November.

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