Maori Response to Gothic Architecture - Summary Book Report

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¶ … Maori Response to Gothic Architecture" - summary

Deidre Brown's journal article "The Maori Response to Gothic Architecture" deals with a series of ideas meant to explain how Maori tribes adapted to change provoked by Western influences pervading their culture and to how their architecture came to be shaped by Gothic elements. The Maori apparently expressed interest in Western ideas ever since their early interactions with the Church Missionary Society. Maori leaders actually supported the CMS in installing their programs in New Zealand and in being able to promote their thinking to Maori tribes.

While the Maori accepted a series of Western influences, they did not hesitate to get involved in the affairs of the CMS in order to emphasize the importance of their cultural values. "Many Evangelical CMS missionaries did not try to prevent their Maori congregations from decorating the interior of their churches with customary kowhaiwhai rafter paintings and tukutuku wall panels." (Brown 254) Brown thus makes it possible for her readers to understand that even though the Maori supported the inclusion of Western elements into their culture, they did not abandon their traditions and actually focused on introducing many of their ideas into these respective elements.

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Christian churches did not only provide the Maori with the opportunity to integrate their ideas into Christian involvement in their culture, as they also enabled the community to realize that it could change much of its architectural customs in order to make buildings more comfortable. Maori houses had been simplistic until that time and it was actually difficult for these people to stand upright in most parts of their homes. CMS churches provided Maori builders with the opportunity to learn new and more effective building strategies.

Book Report on Maori Response to Gothic Architecture - Summary Assignment

The fact that Maori tribes often expressed their competitiveness through progress they experienced in a series of domains enabled them to focus on building better churches and buildings in general. Rival Maori tribes considered that simply building Christian churches was not enough for them to emphasize their superiority. As a consequence, they got actively involved in designing buildings that would reflect their thinking and traditions.

The Rangiatea and Waikanae churches are interesting examples of Christian churches built by the Maori. The fact that they have a great deal of elements that are uncharacteristic to Maori architecture and that they do not have ancestral wood carvings demonstrates that the Maori had been involved in building structures that were in disagreement with their traditional values in order to emphasize their prominence.

The absence of ancestral wood carvings in many Maori built structures during the early years of Gothic architecture being present in the territory can be owed to a series of factors. In some cases missionaries did not approve of such elements in their churches and in other cases Maori builders had trouble coming up with designs that would be in agreement with Christian themes.

While ancestral wood carvings were not present in many Maori-built structures, builders were unhesitant about introducing kowhaiwhai patterns. These patterns are in many cases important because of how they can be used to depict Maori history. The Maori thus concentrated on building impressive structures that could, in addition to promoting Christian belief, provide future generations with the opportunity to learn more about Maori background. Rangiatea has a clear Gothic exterior design, but its interior reveals the intervention of Maori influences through a series of decorations. The building's designers were, however, careful about maintaining the building's general character by introducing discrete decorations in order for the structure to put across a feeling of continuity.

Maori carvers were well-acquainted with the fact that Anglican priests would be hesitant about supporting carvings that portrayed ancestral elements. As a result, they went through great efforts in order to be as subtle as they possibly could with the purpose of introducing their carvings into churches without members of the church realizing it. The church's laws were directly contradicted as a consequence of idol-like figures being present in Maori-built churches. The fact that many influential… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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