November 29, 2005

Picasso and Flax

Did you know Picasso came to NZ and visited a Maori village? He saw their wood engravings and got down on his knees and said "You are the masters of the curved line". He himself loved curves and lines in painting but was stunned to see something so beautiful on the other side of the world. The style are patterns comprised of no straight lines at all. They are intricate, sometimes reflected and amazingly suited to the shape they are set in. The tattoos traditionally (and painfully) etched into the faces of the head tribesmen, shape the mouth and lines around the eyes. Today, many have tattoos on their arms that flow so fluidly with the contours of the shoulders, biceps and elbow.

I tried out a workshop at Te Wananga o Aotearoa, a college in Te Awamutu just a few minutes away. With a lot of help, I made a purse, woven with flax leaves. The complicated process has been passed down for generations and was an essential skill to make everything the Maori's needed to find food (fishing), prepare food and contain food for serving. Looking at my final, clumsy bag, I definitely have a much higher appreciation for the people who can do this well! P

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