Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability

CAS Anthropology Collections Database

Catalog Number

CAS 1984-0008-0354   CAS 1984-0008-0354; Tapa cloth
Category Textiles
Object Name Tapa cloth
Culture Polynesian: Fijian
Global Region Oceania
Country Fiji
Other Geographic Data unknown
Maker's Name Unknown
Date of Manufacture ca. 1920s
Collection Name Rollo Beck Collection (South Pacific)
Materials Paper mulberry bark; Native dyes
Description Elongated rectangular tapa cloth, made from strips of paper mulberry bark that have been beaten into thin sheets which are then overlapped to form larger sheets; Central design field is divided into three rectangular panels, with both ends decorated with positive and negative narrow parallelograms in black and white; Central panel is subdivided into 10 smaller blocks, each containing a negative star or floral motif on a black or half black-half brown background; Series of elaborate borders frame the cloth on all four sides (1 end now missing), the most prominent border consisting of a continuous band of negative diamonds with a central star motif; Outermost edges of cloth were painted with series of parallel diagonal lines, and then cut to form long narrow fringes along sides of cloth and shorter, triangular fringes along ends; All designs were probably applied using stencils to paint black designs, sometimes over a brown underpainting.
Dimensions (cm) Width = ca. 66.0, Length = ca. 206.5