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Virginia Woolf and the Common(wealth) Reader$
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Helen Wussow and Mary Ann Gillies

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780989082679

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780989082679.001.0001

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“Simplicity and Art Shades Reign Supreme”

“Simplicity and Art Shades Reign Supreme”

Costume, Collectibles, and Aspiration in Katherine Mansfield’s New Zealand

(p.78) “Simplicity and Art Shades Reign Supreme”
Virginia Woolf and the Common(wealth) Reader

Jane Stafford

Liverpool University Press

This chapter discusses white settler adoption/adaptation of Maori cultural symbols as exemplified by Katherine Mansfield's heitiki as well as her collection of Maori names and vocabulary and inclusion thereof in her fiction in order to “place” setting. A heitiki is a Maori ornamental object—a piece of jewelry—worn around the neck. It depicts a highly-stylized human figure, usually but not always female. In the colonial period, the heitiki was part of the conventional European representations of Maori. But commercially manufactured heitiki were also worn by Europeans as part of the “culture of display,” demonstrations of “the productive capacity of display.” In a letter to her sister, Mansfield claims that “simplicity and art shades reign supreme,” which suggests that the aesthetic movement and a locally conceived Arts and Crafts movement were standard fashion in Wellington, New Zealand, even, to Mansfield's sharp antennae, a little passé.

Keywords:   New Zealand, Maori culture, cultural symbols, heitiki, white settlers, display culture

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