prmlogo2Cook-Voyage Collections
at the Pitt Rivers Museum

1886.1 1637 .6

PRM000127868Headdress from a mourner′s costume, ta-oopo, of palm-leaf, barkcloth, and feathers, from the Society Islands; part of the Forster collection (Forster 2; 1886.1.1637.6)

The headdress consists of a palm-leaf hat, bound to the top of which is a cape made from coloured strips of barkcloth pasted to a section of white barkcloth. A feather headdress was attached to the hat, and under the headdress wound around the hat and upper cape a length of barkcloth-covered coconut fibre spirally bound with lengths of plaited human hair. The hat appears to have been cut from a larger piece of woven matting. The sheet of woven pandanus leaf is rolled and overlapped, the overlap held by ties of plant material around the lower edge. The cape has a foundation of white barkcloth on to which 9 strips of coloured and white barkcloth are pasted by their upper edges. The coloured strips have been dyed yellow, red/brown, and two different shades of black. The black dyed strips are in very poor condition, with much loss to the barkcloth, presumably caused by the use of black iron containing dyes derived from mud - the iron accelerates deterioration. Once removed from the hat and cape the feather headdress was found to consist of seven bundles of feathers, four separate, and three tied together. Each feather is split along the vane from the tip almost to the end. They are then bound, both individually and in groups of two or three, by coconut fibre cord. Four of these small bundles of bound feathers are then attached to a loop of coconut fibre. Four, or sometimes more, of these loops are then threaded on to a thicker cord made from twined barkcloth to form an individual feather bundle. There appears to be some distinction in size of feather used between bundles: feathers of approximately the same size are used in each bundle. The bundles were attached to the headdress with a string made from loosely twined barkcloth. The bindings are made up of three sections: two short pieces and one long section. The diameter of the shorter sections is narrower than that of the long piece. The central core of the bindings is of coconut fibre, or in places a bundle of plaited human hair. Further inspection showed that the longer section of binding was made from three separate strands, tied together at one end. Two strands have a coconut fibre core, while the third strand,which is doubled, has a hair core. Like the outer spiral hair binding, the plaits of the core are made from five or six strands of hair.


  PRM0001301755179Barkcloth cape
PRM0001301765179Barkcloth cape - inner surface
PRM0001301705179Feather headdress and bindings
PRM0001301735179Detail of feather bundles
PRM0001301615179Lengths of binding during conservation treatment
PRM0001301635179Detail of binding
PRM0001357785179Composite image of mourner’s costume