Methods for identifying plant materials in Māori and Pacific textiles
Lowe, Bronwyn J; Smith, Catherine A
Investigating the range of plant species used in Māori and Pacific textiles can help to understand the diversity and relationships among whatu and raranga techniques and art forms. Although the style and construction of Māori and Pacific textile artefacts often give clues as to the plant species used, positive species identification is not always possible from visual inspection. This may be due to the age and condition of the artefact, or effects of leaf processing such as splitting, softening, stripping or dying. A range of laboratory methods and published resources are however available to help with the identification process. Understanding the internal and surface anatomy of raw leaf material (e.g. Carr and Cruthers 2007; Carr et. al. 2009), the effects of leaf preparation for weaving on leaf anatomy (e.g. King 2003) and the expected condition of specimens sampled from artefacts can aid the interpretation of data collected in the laboratory. The most appropriate method of specimen preparation is another important consideration. This paper provides a review of microscopy and tomography techniques and online resources, which have been trialled and implemented in the Clothing and Textile Sciences Department at the University of Otago for the identification of plant species of interest in New Zealand and the Pacific. The advantages and disadvantages of these techniques and resources for identifying plant materials in artefacts will be discussed.
Conference: Whatu Raranga a Kiwa Understanding and Uniting Māori and Pacific Textiles. Proceedings of the Māori and Pacific Textiles Symposium, Te Papa, Wellington, New Zealand
Keywords: Maori textiles; Plant materials; Microscopy; Tomography
Research Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)