Thursday, December 02, 2004

Tapa Cloth

Fijian tapa Posted by Hello
I love tapa cloth and always make sure I visit the Auckland Museum in New Zealand which has a wonderful collection of Tapa Cloth as well as other Pacific islands artefacts and art. The above piece comes from Fiji, and my mother brought it back for me in 1980.It is only a section of a much larger piece. Tapa is actually the beaten bark of the mulberry tree and the designs are painted on. Once upon a time they were beaten onto the tapa with special beaters.
The piece below is Tongan tapa and I got it at the Tongan Women's Friendly Society in Auckland, which was housed in a disused church hall that looked the worse for wear on the outside. But inside was treasure- women teaching others to paint the tapa a whole room of cloths for sale some metres long and wide. None of them were signed so I cannot tell you the name of the artists, but the patterning and order of patterning was often distinctive to family groups.I bought my children a piece each which I will show another time- for like so many Pacific hand crafts this is a dying art.

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