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The development of New Zealand Maori figurative painting (folk art).

Author: Roger Neich; University of California, Berkeley.
Dissertation: Ph. D. University of California, Berkeley 1986
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : Microfiche : English
Publication:Dissertation Abstracts International, 48-05A.
Summary:
Painting as a distinct art-form in traditional New Zealand Maori culture was restricted to non-representational body painting, coating of timbers and woodcarvings with red ochre, and kowhaiwhai painting. At the time of first European contact, representational figurative painting was not practised and the abstract scroll patterns of kowhaiwhai painting were found only on certain canoe paddles. But by the 1840's, at
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Details

Material Type: Thesis/dissertation
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Roger Neich; University of California, Berkeley.
OCLC Number: 224336725
Notes: (UnM)AAI8718097.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 48-05, Section: A, page: 1248.
Reproduction Notes: Microfiche. Ann Arbor, Mich : University Microfilms International.
Description: 571 pages

Abstract:

Painting as a distinct art-form in traditional New Zealand Maori culture was restricted to non-representational body painting, coating of timbers and woodcarvings with red ochre, and kowhaiwhai painting. At the time of first European contact, representational figurative painting was not practised and the abstract scroll patterns of kowhaiwhai painting were found only on certain canoe paddles. But by the 1840's, at least three distinct regional styles of kowhaiwhai painting on architectural timbers can be distinguished. This transfer of kowhaiwhai from paddles to architectural timbers and the rapid elaboration of periodically repeating bilaterally symmetrical kowhaiwhai designs can be related to the development of the fully-decorated meeting house as the focus of group prestige and identity during the 1840's. As a powerful symbol of group identity and continuity, the meeting house also became a genealogical memorial and a model of the Maori cosmos.

In the 1870s, there began a widespread development of several figurative painting traditions in the decorative scheme of many meeting houses built in the eastern areas of the North Island. This is attributed to the innovative genius of Te Kooti, the founder of the millennial movement which became the Ringatu Church. Using their meeting houses as churches, the figurative painters of the Ringatu Movement combined precedents from European naturalistic art, from Maori woodcarving design and from figurative kowhaiwhai. The first experiments with figurative kowhaiwhai are traced in the Poverty Bay kowhaiwhai style area to missionary criticism of Maori church decoration in the 1849-1863 period. Ringatu teaching and experience of the Maori Land Court changed Maori historical consciousness, leading to the construction of new tribal identities based on specific histories rather than genealogy.

As the symbol of group identity, the decorative scheme of the meeting house was transformed to give visual expression to these new historical narratives. Within fifty years, figurative painting was superceded by a conscious revival of orthodox traditional art-forms employed to foster a new national Maori identity.

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