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Basket kato alu

Basket kato alu

Place: Tonga
Category: Baskets & fans

alu (Epipremnum pennatum), coconut fibre, Tonga, l. 47.5 cm, h. 19.5 cm, w. 12 cm (top), 17 cm (middle), Inv. Oz 117

Humphrey No. 129: ‘A long square basket made of the like Materials as the next preceding and ornamented with Zigzags formed of brown plaited Cordage, from ditto [Friendly Isles].’

The basket is made of the alu (Epipremnum pennatum) and has a rectangular opening. It is dark brown in colour and is decorated with brown strips of plaited coconut fibre. These are tied to the basket in bundles of five, and run in zigzag lines from the rim to the bottom. A handle made of coconut fibre is attached.

The kato alu were bridal baskets. Those manufactured for the groom were small and oval, and those for the bride were large and round. They were ‘woven from the split stems of the ‘alu (a native creeper with tendrils) in the spiral technique around the secondary stems of the coconut palm leaf’ (Grijp 1995: 209). The creeper alu (Epipremnum pennatum) was dyed brown (Kaeppler 1978b: 42). Inken Köhler, Ulrike Rehr, Gundolf Krüger


Grijp, Paul van der, ‘Made in Tonga, manufacture and arts objects from leaves, bark and wood’, in Dirk AM Smidt, Pieter ter Keurs and Albert Trouwborst (eds), Pacific Material Culture. Essays in Honour of Dr. Simon Dooijman on the Occasion of his 80th Birthday, Leiden, 1995, pp. 200-218.

Kaeppler, Adrienne L, Cook Voyage Artifacts in Leningrad, Berne and Florence Museums, Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu, 1978b.

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