Page:Picturesque New Zealand, 1913.djvu/96

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

as attractive as possible. His vanity was appeased with ornaments, paint, and bright colors. To the hair much attention was paid by persons of rank, including chiefs, whose hair usually was long in peaceful days. For beards the majority of men did not care, because they hid the tattooing, and so facial hairs were extracted with mussel-shell pincers.

Those were the days of knobbed heads. Hair knobs were "the rage." On the back of some heads there were from three to six or more. They were fastened with combs, and their possessors were very careful to keep them in place. The coiffures were brightened with the feathers of birds, and one feathery decoration was a war plume of twelve huia feathers, single ones of which are worth now, I was told, as much as five dollars. But time has wrought her changes in this land as elsewhere. Befeathered Maoris are still common in New Zealand, but their feathers are worn in European hats. The war plume is no longer seen, the strife-provoking suspicions of early days exist no more. Rongo, god of sweet potatoes, has more followers than the warring Tu.

The modernized Maori is not much like his mat-clothed, tattooed ancestors. The flax mat and kilt have been superseded by European apparel, in many cases by carefully pressed suits and other demands of modern fashion. Even such conveniences as telephones and automobiles are possessed by Maoris.

The Maori is absorbing the education and customs of his vanquishers, but in turn he himself is being ab-