Chief Mourner's Costume
Episode:31Te Papa Collection:Pacific Cultures
Suggested curriculum levels:5 – 8
Description:In the Pacific it wasn't always appropriate to wear black to a funeral. Several hundred years ago the fashion was a frightening outfit made from precious pearl and black shell.
Questions for students
- The presenter explains the value of the pearl shells in terms of what a person would need to exchange for one. How could you explain the value of a modern item in terms other than monetary?
- What message about status and power did the chief mourners costume convey? Compare this with the ways the special clothing and decoration used to show status in other cultures. Make a comment about your response to this Tale. Use the 'Comparisons' response template to record your ideas.
- Think about the way the costume was made. What techniques and materials were used? Apart from decoration, what was the purpose of some of the materials?
- What do you know about funeral customs in your community? How do you think special customs help people to cope with death?
- What helped you to understand the value, both symbolic and in terms of money or goods, of this costume? What information and knowledge did you use?