Iliili, fan, most likely made from coconut leaf midrib and pandanus leaf strips, woven into an intricate, radiating pattern. The leaf fibres are secured to the dark wood handle with finely plaited human hair binding, and narrow leaf strips form a chevron pattern.
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This leaf-shaped iliili (fan) is one of the treasures from Niue cared for at Puke Ariki. It was made in the 1800s, and was collected by English settler Adolphus Kyngdon, who had arrived in Taranaki in 1850 on the SS Eden, aged 16.
The midrib of coconut leaves, and pandanus leaf strips are used to make iliili, and they are woven into intricate, radiating patterns. The dark wood handle is bound with finely plaited human hair, and narrow leaf strips create a chevron pattern. In nineteenth century Niue, human hair was used for a range of ornaments – girdles made up of hundreds of lengths of finely plaited hair were worn around the waist, and these were known as kafa.
Adolphus Kyngdon collected this fan and other items from the Pacific himself. In April 1894 the Taranaki Herald reported that Mr Kyngdon had just returned from “his tour round the world”. He donated his collection to the Museum in 1901, and this included a collection of Japanese fans, and embroidered shoes from China. He did most of his travels in his 60s and 70s, visiting South Africa, South America, Australia and New Guinea.
Text by Natasha McKinney, 10th August 2022.
Akeli, S. & Pasene, S., 2011. “Exploring ‘the Rock’: Material culture from Niue Island in Te Papa’s Pacific Cultures collection.” Tuhinga 22: 101-124.
Rutherford, J. & Skinner, W.H., (eds.), 1969. The establishment of the New Plymouth Settlement in New Zealand 1841-1843. New Plymouth: Thomas Avery & Sons Ltd.
Taranaki Herald, 21 April 1894, page 2 in section “Chit-Chat: Up to date”.
Taranaki Herald, 29 May 1912, page 7 [Obituary for Adolphus Kyngdon].
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