VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Kato mosi kaka
Oz 122
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The kato mosi kaka was the highest social-ranking type of basket. The basket is made of coconut fiber and has an oval shape. The pattern features two horizontal rows of alternating triangular sections of either a brown or blackish-brown colour. The triangles are bordered by rows of small pieces of shell intertwined into the basket. The darker sections are additionally decorated with vertical lines made in the same manner. The baskets of the kato mosi kaka type were made of "twined coconut fibers in two colours and [were] decorated with beads of shell". Wendy Arbeit, expert in Polynesian textiles and basketry, gives a detailed description of the material used and also commented on the function of this type of basket: "The mosikaka was made from the dyed and undyed separated fibers of coconut husk, leaf sheath, or roots (information is conflicting on this detail). The single strands were twined together in double pairs to create a flat, flexible satchel. ... They were also constructed on bases of knotted sennit, or checker-work pandanus, or wooden cylinders, and (a variant technique) on coconuts. Frequently its triangular patterns were accented with small white shells. One early writing states that the soft mosikaka was used by chiefly ladies to carry bits of white tapa impregnated with fragrant coconut oil."

History of the Object
This object, among others, was collected during James Cook’s three voyages through the Pacific Ocean (1768-71, 1772-75, and 1776-79/80). The items presented in the Goettingen Collection are of fascinating preservation and – in consideration of their age – irreplaceable items of the past.

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Type
Textile 
Materials
Coconut fiber, beads of shell 
Measurements
44 x 27 cm 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Tonga 
Geography
Tonga 
Time period
AD 18th century ~ AD 18th century 
Creation date
18th Century 
Function
Basket 
Acquisition
Part of the Cook/Forster Collection 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Ethnographic Collection, Institute for Cultural and Social Anthropology, Georg-August University Goettingen, Germany 
Museum
Ethnographic Collection of the University of Göttingen 
Credit line
 

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