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Man's Jacket, C1900

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Copyright Reproduced courtesy of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Purchased from A Hannah, 1915
Creator Unidentified
Identifiers Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa number FE001055/1 TLF resource R2868
Source Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

This is a man's military-style jacket with tunic collar and long sleeves made around 1900, most likely in Tuvalu. Handmade from red-and-yellow pandanus matting, it has five large pearl-shell buttons and red epaulettes (shoulder ornaments) of plaited and fringed plant fibres. A pearl-shell 'star' sits high on the right breast and there are two lower pockets. The jacket measures 77 cm x 50 cm.

Educational value:
  • This asset is an example of an item of clothing whose origin has been attributed on the basis of the material used in its construction - the distinctive yellow-and-red dyed pandanus (fibre from leaves of the pandanus tree) is typically used in weaving from Tuvalu.
  • It displays an interesting mix of Pacific materials and European styling - 19th-century missionaries in the Pacific introduced new concepts of modesty and previously unknown types of clothing, and this influence can be seen in many garment styles of the period.
  • It is an example of a long-sleeved jacket, quite unsuitable for the hot climate but often worn at the time - European dress became a status symbol, often identifying the wearer as a member of a group, such as a military force.
  • It shows the craftsmanship of garment-makers of the time - the pandanus matting was sectioned, cut to shape and then machine-stitched; pearl-shell buttons added a finishing touch.

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