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Feather Signatures

Episode:17Te Papa Collection:Taonga Māori

Suggested curriculum levels:5 – 8

Curriculum connections:English: Listening, Reading, and Viewing, The Arts: Understanding the Arts in Context Communicating and Interpreting

Description:Researcher Hokimate Harwood puts feather cloaks under the microscope, with surprising results. It turns out weavers use feathers to autograph their work.

Questions for students

  1. How do artists and craft workers usually 'autograph' or sign their work? How is a feather signature different? Why is this term used?
  2. How did Te Papa learn about feather signatures? Why didn't it already know who made the feather cloaks in its collection?
  3. What might feather cloaks tell researchers about the people who made a cloak, and the people a cloak was made for? The presenter says that a lot of Māori history is oral. Why should this make a difference to what we know about the feather cloaks?
  4. What questions will researchers now have about feather signatures? How do you think a museum could help people learn more?
  5. Are there any connections between an aspect of this Tale and something you already know about the work of artists? Use the 'Connections and conclusions' response template to record your ideas.

Related templates:

Connections and conclusions