Kete (basket)

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Kete Whakairo (patterned flax baskets) on display at the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan


Kete are traditional baskets made and used by New Zealand's Māori people. They may be of many sizes, but are most often found in sizes similar to large handbags. Kete are traditionally woven from the leaves of New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax, known in Māori as harakeke), with two handles at the top. Other materials are sometimes used, including the leaves of the nikau palm and cabbage tree.[1]

In pre-European society, Māori had specific plantations of flax, which was their most important textile. It was prepared by cutting the green leaves close to the base before the leaves were split and woven. Various preparations of the leaves allowed the material to be used both as a hardy flat thick-woven material (as in kete and mats) and also as a fibrous twine, used for creating both rope and finely woven cloaks.

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