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This is a lotus leaf-shaped fan made from a single frond of the Palmyra Palm. The palm is reinforced with strips of bamboo sewn to the leaf, and the margins are trimmed to an oval shape. There is a long red lacquered wooden handle attached to the base of the leaf. The object is part of the William Ninnis Porter Collection and can be dated to late 19th Century. Porter has donated many objects from tribal areas but the actual provenance of these fans is unknown. The fan is used by monks during assembly where it is held before the face during meditation. It is also used to screen the monk when in the presence of a woman. There is a second ‘yat’ in the collection – 29.1907 – which is of the same type. It was also donated by Porter. However, the condition of the palm leaf is fragile, and sections have deteriorated. References to these types of fans can be found in ‘Burmese Crafts, Past and Present’ (Fraser-Lu 1994:292). An excellent collection of fans from the Indian subcontinent can be seen at The Fan Museum in Greenwich, London. There are many parallels between Indian and Burmese palm leaf fans, as observed in their catalogue for a recent exhibition on the collection of Jatin Das called ‘Pankha’ (see the last page of the catalogue specifically, and no.18, no.9). Jatin Das was quoted saying that the real perpetuators of arts and crafts in India are the poor and middle classes (Das 2004: Intro.) Comparisons may be drawn with Burma, in that because of the tropical climate and shortage of electricity fan making survives. As suggested by Jacqueline Morris ‘fans are as old as hot weather’ (Das 2004: Intro.)
This is a common souvenir purchased by visitors to Tonga. However, fans are common to Pacific life. Using an intricate weave, women would use pandanus, coconut and palm leaves, which are hand cut and sun-bleached. Natural vegetal dyes would provide additional colour. The addition of bark cloth to the palm weave makes this an interesting item.
These dance hats (30/1907, 31/1907, 34/1907) have been grouped together because they are fundamentally all of the same type with minute variations in decoration if applicable. These hats are composed of red plaited cane woven to form a conical shape. On each hat is a strap originating from the top to secure the hat under the chin. All the hats were donated by William Ninnis Porter and can be dated to the late 1800s, if not earlier, however, the exact provenance is unknown. Images of these hats have been looked at by Jamie Saul who recently wrote a book called the ‘Nagas in Burma’. He suggested that ‘the heavy cane work hats are also Tangkhul and form the base for the wonderfully decorated hats they wore for ceremonies’ (Pers. Comm. 2006). However, if plain they could have been worn for war. Hat 30/1907 has remains of animal hide decoration used to cover the strap situated on top of the hat. Hat 34/1907 is decorated with two plumes of red hair, which is likely to be dyed goat’s hair. Examples of different forms of Naga decoration can be seen in ‘The Nagas, Hill Peoples of Northeast India’ (Jacobs 1998: 222-227).
An example of a Maori purse (kete muka) made from processed flax fibre. They are still produced today but are mainly used as wall hangings. If purses are frequently used they will quickly wear so they are used only on special occasions. This purse typically was made using a finger weaving technique called whatu as opposed to raranga or plaited weaving.