Images of cats from the British Museum collection, £9.99
Length: 1738.500 cm
Width: 79.000 cm
Gift of Julius L. Brenchley
Africa, Oceania, Americas
From Fiji, Polynesia, about AD 1800-50
Worn as a loin cloth
Barkcloth, known by the Fijians as or masi, is made by felting bark, here the inner bark of paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera). This example has been decorated with a combination of free-hand painting, cut-out stencils and by being laid over a patterned block and rubbed with pigment.
Strips of barkcloth were worn by men as loin cloths. This example is longer than average, and probably belonged to someone of high status. Large pieces of barkcloth were also used as gifts in ceremonies, a practice which has continued to a lesser extent into modern times.
The collector Julius Brenchley (1816-73) was born in Maidstone, Kent. He visited Fiji in 1865, when he was a passenger on the South Seas cruise of HMS Curaçao.
R. Neich and M. Pendergrast, Traditional Tapa textiles of t (London, Thames and Hudson, 1997)