- Museum number
Barkcloth (ngatu) rectangular piece, 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. A black border on three sides, suggesting the original cloth was larger.
- Production date
Length: 222 centimetres (approx)
Width: 134 centimetres (approx)
- Curator's comments
- It looks as though this has been cut from a larger piece, due to the black border on three sides. See 2013,2019.1 for similarities.
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
- Extremely brittle
- Acquisition notes
- Acquisition details unknown.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number