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Weaving Peg (Turu Turu)

Unlike much of Polynesia, where most clothing was made from bark cloth, Aotearoa’s cooler and wetter climate resulted in the Māori wearing cloaks and wrappers woven from flax. To make this cloth, Māori weavers, who were usually women, used a process called twining or finger weaving: after the ends of a thread were tied to two pegs that had been stuck in the ground, warp threads were hung from that thread, and the cloth was made by twisting weft threads around them, working from left to right.

The elaborate decoration on this peg indicates that it was the sacred peg, which was always placed on the right side. As with other arts and crafts throughout Polynesia, weaving was a sacred act, and to do it successfully a weaver needed not only technical skill but also the mana, or spiritual energy, required for the task. Sacred weaving pegs such as this can be viewed as the physical representation of the transfer of the energy from priest (who blessed the pegs and taught weaving) to weaver and from weaver into the cloth.

Māori peoples, Taranaki area, Te Ika-a-Māui (North Island), Aotearoa (New Zealand)
Weaving Peg (Turu Turu)
18th century
Wood, haliotis shell
H 17 ¾ in. (45.1 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection, 2010.21