Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



In Approaching Textiles, Varying Viewpoints: Proceedings of the Seventh Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2000


Copyright © 2000 by the author(s).


What better image for a Cook Islands tivaevae than the vision of this colorful messenger embellishing the fabric's design in a magical moment of trust and oblivion? The sleeping bird brings tidings from Havaiki., the source of myth and memory, and is lured to rest in a field of imaginary flowers a long way from its poetic homeland.

The applique or patchwork tivaevae most representative of this genre appear to have been vigorously brushed by the mythical bird's feathers and left shimmering in an array of color. Cook Islands women who have created these patterns speak a language of hue and intensity, of flower and butterfly - not necessarily one shaped by words. Colors resonate while patterns shift from figure to ground in an endless round of interplay between the two. Aesthetically, these visual effects characterize the applique style of tivaevae termed tivaevae manu rendered in florid colors and opulent, rich imagery upon a contrasting ground fabric.