Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability

CAS Anthropology Collections Database

Catalog Number

CAS 1984-0008-0081   CAS 1984-0008-0081; Dress or dance tunic
Category Textiles
Object Name Dress or dance tunic
Culture Polynesian: Tongan
Global Region Oceania
Country Tonga
State/Prov./Dist. unknown
Other Geographic Data unknown
Maker's Name Unknown
Date of Manufacture ca. 1920s
Collection Name Rollo Beck Collection (South Pacific)
Materials Paper mulberry bark; Shells; Seeds; Pandanus fiber; Commercial cotton cloth; Cotton (?) thread
Description Child's dress or dance tunic made from a single piece of tapa cloth that is folded in half along the shoulder and the two halves partially seamed together along the sides and under the short sleeves; Tapa cloth is made from strips of paper mulberry bark that have been beaten into thin sheets and overlapped to form a larger sheet which is undecorated except for large negative inverted and off-centered "U' shape on front of dress; Except for inverted "U' shape motif, entire surface of dress was rubbed to yield an all-over brown color; Semi-circular neck hole and outer edges of both sleeves are edged with strips of commercially printed cotton cloth and small folded triangles of natural colored and dyed red pandanus, all machine sewn to dress with black thread; Neck hole is framed on front and back with several rows of dark brown seed beads and several rows of off-white and darker brown olivella shells, all laid in rows parallel to contour of neck hole; Numerous short strands of additional olivella shells hang pendant from the shells framing the neck hole, with bits of dyed red pandanus attached to the final bead on many of the strands.
Dimensions (cm) Width = ca. 60.0, Thickness = 2.3, Length = ca. 56.0