Friday, 28 June 2019

Old Tea Towel in Brain Watkins House

Lying on the  kitchen bench at Brain Watkins House is an old tea towel which seldom receives attention. Yet on closer examination, this item is very interesting. It is an ecru colour, and printed on it are a list of Maori proverbs, surrounded by a border of Maori-related pictures.

There are no distinguishing marks on this article to give a clue as to its age or place of manufacture, except that the cloth is made of natural flax linen.

It would be interesting to learn of any other similar article, and any other identifying features that would give a clue as to the towel's place of manufacture, and approximate era in which it was on sale.

Were the proverbs well known to the Maori? Several of my Maori octogenarian friends who have inspected it, can cast no light on the sayings. For those who find the wording on the article difficult to read, I have printed out the sayings.
Youth talks, age teaches
Little dogs make the most noise
Wishing never filled the game bag
A fine food house doesn’t fill itself
An idle young man - an unhappy old man
A bad thing usually costs a lot
A pigeon won’t fly into an open mouth
Great griefs are silent
The widest mouth has the widest grave
Time to dream when you are dead
Chase two Moas, catch none
Never be late for a battle to win it
An obedient wife commands her warrior
Beauty won’t fill the puku (stomach)
A wise man knows pain
One rotten fish, one fresh fish - two rotten fish
The god of evil and the god of fear are good friends
A warrior without courage has a blunt taiga (spear)
The brighter the clearing the darker the shadows
Todays meal is better than tomorrow’s tangi (feast)
No twigs on the fire - no flame

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