Besides “flood tourism” I also stuck to my plans (and luckily could) and visited the next museum on my list – the Volkerkunde Museum Dresden – the actual Museum is very close to the river and they had been emptying the cellars there – but the archives (or vaults) are high up on the ridge surrounding Dresden – near the airport. That whole area is a old army barracks that was used by the Russians during GDR times and now houses numerous museum archives and also some government departments.
The curator I was supposed to meet had to help with the evacuations but the very lovely lady that took me around instead was great in her own rights as she is the one responsible for the recording of the origins of items and also collates the different sources of information – in a way that was even better.
As in Berlin – storage is a bit of an issue – they really try hard but they just don’t have the space or indeed the knowledge. Korowai and any other Kakahu are folded….. piupiu are falling apart and are only loosely rolled up in paper.. not ideal. Some items are so fragile that I declined handling them at all for the fear of doing more damage.
However – some items have been collected as early as the 1820’s and the majority in the 1880’s by a man who clearly talked to maori back then as he recorded the items with correct and quite detailed descriptions on their origin and manufacture (he used words such as Hinau Bark, Korowai, Raurekau etc).
I have to go through all the photo’s and my notes to get a clearer picture but it seems that at least piupiu have been around longer than I thought – I always believed them to be a fairly modern invention – but they have one here – they say is a “mat” (WRONG) that has been collected in 1820! So… not so modern after all..
Some of the piupiu they had have more than 20(!) layers – very finely made and interestingly the oldest ones don’t have the big cuts we do make these days at all – they only have those very fine lines – that we still use for design purposes.
Also it was refreshing to see that well over a hundred years ago weavers made mistakes to… they have a kete (very fragile) with the broken step pattern – and clearly the person who wove it got the numbers wrong:-) Nice one!
Most (if not all) Kakahu have been classified as “mats” – which is clearly wrong – however there is one – that is very large – very soft and could possibly been used as a blanket (?) but I don’t think as a mat – will have to ask around when I am back if it could have been a mat….
Anyway – I’ll attach a few photos for you – and I am off to check on the flood levels again – they are expecting it to reach the 9m today (as of 6am it is 8.70).