- Museum number
Barkcloth, ngatu, made of bark (likely paper mulberry). Square piece of barkcloth, reddish brown background, stencilled and painted in places with black paint or pigment. The design is separated by square blocks and the pattern is repeated.
- Production date
Length: 141 centimetres
Width: 146 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Most Tongan barkcloth is made from the paper mulberry tree (Broussonetia papyrifera), which is known as hiapo. Bark of the koka tree (Bischofia javanica), is most commonly used to make the brown dye.
After the cloth has been beaten on an anvil (tutua), the pieces are joined together and patterned.
Patterned rubbing blocks known as kupesi are bound to a convex bench, over which the cloth is laid. It is then rubbed with the brown dye to bring out the pattern of the block below. When dried and flattened, the patterns on the cloth may then be overpainted with black or brown dye.
Ngatu continues to be exchanged at important occasions, and is part of ceremonies associated with birth, death and marriage.
Kooijman, S. (1972). Tapa in Polynesia. Honolulu, Bishop Museum Press.
Neich, R. & Pendergrast, M. (2006). Pacific Tapa. Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Presented to Dr J.C.R. Buchanan at a ceremonial occasion probably in the late 1940s, whilst he was working in Tonga, by Queen Sālote Mafile‘o Pilolevu Tupou III.
Donated by Mrs Audrey Packman on behalf of her late husband Mr Peter Packman. Peter was given the cloth in 1976 by Mrs Eileen Buchanan, Dr J.C.R. Buchanan's widow. Mrs Packman donated this cloth in memory of her late husband Peter. The Packmans and the Buchanans became lifelong friends from the 1960s. Peter was also their builder and Audrey tended to their garden.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number