Adorning the head: Cook Islands ‘ei taomi pare (hatband)

Today’s post is the last in our blog series for Cook Islands language week (6-8 August). I have decided to look at a variety of ’ei taomi pare (hatbands) from the Pacific Cultures collection. Usually ‘ei taomi pare are placed on a hat around the crown area. These ‘ei are separated from the hats to allow a closer view of their beautiful designs. 

’ei taomi Pare (hatband); FE012144; Te Papa

’ei taomi Pare (hatband); FE012144; Te Papa

This ‘ei (above) is exquisite in how the maker has arranged the shells into rosettes around the outer surface. Taking a closer look, each shell has been sewn onto the cloth material which has been wrapped around the pandanus fibre.

’ei taomi Pare (hatband); FE012083; Gift of Mrs E. M. Paterson, 1954; Te Papa

’ei taomi Pare (hatband); FE012083; Gift of Mrs E. M. Paterson, 1954; Te Papa

This tubular-shaped ‘ei is made using yellow, white and brown ‘ei pupu shells that have been threaded through and tied closely together. The shells form a lovely diagonal pattern. This particular ‘ei was gifted to the museum in 1954 from Mrs Edith Paterson, who along with her husband John made several visits to the Cook Islands in the 1920s. During their time there, John helped to build the wharf at Avarua in Rarotonga.

’ei taomi Pare (hatband); FE007305/2; Te Papa

’ei taomi Pare (hatband); FE007305/2; Te Papa

Made from kako grass, this ‘ei taomi pare is stunning in its combination of colours and floral arrangement. This ‘ei was acquired by Te Papa in the 1970s, and was collected by John Burland who spent some time studying bird life on Palmerston Atoll during the 1960s.

The pare vaine (woman’s hat) below has an ‘ei attached to its crown. It was collected by botanist and public servant Thomas Kirk, and gifted by the Masonic Lodge Tawera o Kapiti to the museum in 1950.

Pare vaine (womans hat); FE011390; Gift of Masonic Lodge Tawera o Kapiti, 1950

Pare vaine (womans hat); FE011390; Gift of Masonic Lodge Tawera o Kapiti, 1950

Although our current blog series ends for now, click on the link below to read more about the Cook Islands material culture collection at Te Papa: 

https://www.tepapa.govt.nz/SiteCollectionDocuments/Tuhinga/Tuhinga21_099_HuttonAkeliMallon.pdf

2 Responses

  1. Safua Akeli

    Thanks for visiting our blog Leon.

    The dyes are synthetic because Cook Islands dance costumes made in the early 1900s from natural fibres such kiriau (hibiscus) were dyed using imported products.

    To view some of the costumes in the collection, click on the following links:

    http://blog.tepapa.govt.nz/2010/03/26/dance-costume-cook-islands-style/

    http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/objectdetails.aspx?oid=838604&term=cook+islands+dance+costume

    Reply
  2. Leon Perrie

    Thanks Safua, great post.

    Any information on how the colours were produced in the ‘ei taomi pare made of kako grass? It is a striking object. It would be very cool if the dyes were natural/local!! But I suspect they’re synthetic…

    Reply

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