Māori have a rich weaving and textile tradition that is
illustrated in exquisite ways in Lindauer's paintings. His
portraits of Māori cover a diverse range of cloak and garment
styles that show customary techniques, materials and technology
related to this art form. This large scene painting is based on a
Samuel Carnell photograph, now in the Alexander Turnbull Library,
taken in the 1890s showing two figures sitting in the porch of a
Hawke's Bay meetinghouse. In Women Weaving, two
weavers are in the finishing stages of making large korowai. The
cloaks, being woven in the mahau of an ornately carved
meetinghouse, are held by turuturu (weaving pegs) at the corners to
maintain the shape and structure of the garment as it is being
The sun is casting afternoon shadows on the porch, revealing a
quiet, contemplative environment perfect for the meditative process
of weaving. The weavers seem absorbed in their work and are not
distracted by two inquisitive youngsters being gently introduced to
the world of weaving. Their presence in this painting emphasises
that weaving is the domain of women.
Although Lindauer has painted a tranquil scene, visually it is
very active and full of colour and texture. Customary Māori art
traditions related to the meetinghouse are illustrated: the
whakairo that grace the front of the house and in the porch the
painted heke with kōwhaiwhai in bold red, black and white pigment.
The turapa of the porch show another weaving tradition: tukutuku
panelling in long geometric patterns similar to the tāniko patterns
on the borders of garments.
Beyond the meetinghouse on the left there is a pā harakeke and a
distinct waterway in the distance, indicating its location amidst a
well-established supply of weaving resources.
(originally published in Gottfried Lindauer's New
Zealand: The Māori Portraits, edited by Ngahiraka Mason and
Zara Stanhope, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki and AUP,
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