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Tapa Cloth

view Tapa Cloth digital asset number 1
Vessel:
U.S. Fish Commission Steamer "Albatross"
Expedition:
Albatross Expedition / U.S. Fish Commission
Donor Name:
Charles H. Townsend
H. F. Moore
Collector:
Charles H. Townsend
H. F. Moore
Length:
307cm
Width:
170cm
Object Type:
Barkcloth
Place:
Aitutaki Island, Cook Islands, Polynesia
Accession Date:
1900-Apr-17
Collection Date:
1899
Specimen Count:
1
Notes:
From card: "Plain sheet brown, coarse water-mark. Very coarse brown texture showing mallet marks. Sample taken by K.P. Emory. June 24, 1941."
Plain brown tapa with no adornments, stiff and textured with visible groove marks from ike or rue (beater). Tapa has an unpleasant odor (which lessened after conservation treatment) and was mottled in parts. Piecing seams not visible, except for the one at the 'cut' end, shorter end of the tapa, 13 inches from the end. Beater marks are 2-3 mm apart and the beater appears to have been used in multiple direction. Under a microscope the brown coloring is located in between teh white grooves left by the beater. When pulled in both directions the tapa is uniformly strong. The two corners on one end of tapa with the 'uncut', natural edge appears to have been tied at some point. The other end was cut off. Adrienne Kaeppler, curator for Oceania Ethnology, says it is made from breadfruit (kuru). For Cook Island Community Scholars, Jean Chapman-Mason and Nancy Moeauri, it is nothing like the breadfruit tapa they are used to (which is light-colored, with loose fibers) but that may be due to a different type of manufacture, the age of the fiber used (from the source), or waterproofing which makes the tapa stiffer and darker in color; the coarser type is intended for some purpose other than clothing, say a funeral shroud, room divider (arai), or shade cloth (kaka'u tamarumaru) for outdoors where a communal activity (e.g. food preparation for a community event, takurua) is taking place. According to Buck, this cloth, where the grooves (ngao) of the beater show up well, is called inaina in Aitutaki. Inaina means gray hair in Cook Islands maori which corresponds with the white grooves visible through the dark dye on the cloth. The tapa may have been treated with oil (from coconut, or tuitui - candlenut kernel), or other substance, such as mud, to make it waterproof. Buck 1944 gives a detailed description of cloth immersion in swamps in Aitutaki (page 72), which was preceded by soaking in candlenut juice (vai'iri) then drying in the sun, then soaking in ironwood juice, drying in the sun again, then baking it in an earth oven (umu), drying it in the sun, then pressing into mud, and finally, washing and drying it. This could also explain the smell on the present tapa (swamp mud smells foul). Present day preference for breadfruit tapa type is creamy in appearance and light in texture, although it's been recorded by ethnographers that the fine breadfruit tapa of yesteryear had vanished by the 1920s to be replaced by a coarser, grayish brown variety (Buck 1944; Linton 1974). Jean Chapman-Mason and Nancy Moeauri have not seen this coarse type made in their lifetimes. Jean Chapman-Mason has seen the lighter variety made only three times in her lifetime (on Rarotonga) for cultural demonstrations and understands it is still made on Atiu for making flowers to decorate handicrafts. Jean has been told by tapa-makers that breadfruit was considered the best tapa, and was highly valued by Rarotongans, Aitutakians, Maukeans and Atiuans in the past and was the only tapa fit to be worn by, or given as gifts to chiefs. Having said this, it has been reported (Cox & Banack 1991) that in the Cook Islands tapa manufacture all but disappeared as the islanders stopped growing aute (Broussonetia); when cloth was needed for rituals they had to resort to making common breadfruit or banyan cloth.
Record Last Modified:
2 Jul 2015
Topic:
Ethnology
Accession Number:
036365
USNM Number:
E205161-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8357138
Additional Online Media:

Tapa Cloth

view Tapa Cloth digital asset number 1
Donor Name:
U.S. State Department
New Orleans Exposition
Collector:
Us Consul D. A. McKinley
Object Type:
Barkcloth
Place:
American Samoa (not certain) / Hawaii (not certain), Samoa (not certain) / United States (not certain), Polynesia
Accession Date:
8 Oct 1885
Collection Date:
1885
Specimen Count:
1
Notes:
Style atypical for Hawaii. Catalog numbers E76555 through 7 are tapa cloths originally catalogued as from the Sandwich Islands/Hawaii, however ledger book for 76551 - 7 was later changed to include Samoa, and old tags with 76556 and 76557 also say Samoa, so the provenance for these tapa pieces is uncertain.
Record Last Modified:
2 Dec 2014
Topic:
Ethnology
Accession Number:
016588
USNM Number:
E76557-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8479642
Additional Online Media:

Tapa Cloth

view Tapa Cloth digital asset number 1
Donor Name:
U.S. State Department
New Orleans Exposition
Collector:
Us Consul D. A. McKinley
Object Type:
Barkcloth
Place:
American Samoa (not certain) / Hawaii (not certain), Samoa (not certain) / United States (not certain), Polynesia
Accession Date:
8 Oct 1885
Collection Date:
1885
Specimen Count:
1
Notes:
Style atypical for Hawaii. Catalog numbers E76555 through 7 are tapa cloths originally catalogued as from the Sandwich Islands/Hawaii, however ledger book for 76551 - 7 was later changed to include Samoa, and old tags with 76556 and 76557 also say Samoa, so the provenance for these tapa pieces is uncertain.
Record Last Modified:
2 Dec 2014
Topic:
Ethnology
Accession Number:
016588
USNM Number:
E76556-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8479641
Additional Online Media:

Tapa Cloth

view Tapa Cloth digital asset number 1
Donor Name:
No Information
Object Type:
Barkcloth
Place:
Fiji (not certain), Melanesia (not certain)
Accession Date:
1991
Specimen Count:
1
Record Last Modified:
8 Oct 2015
Topic:
Ethnology
Accession Number:
999999
USNM Number:
ET102-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8492649

Tapa Cloth

view Tapa Cloth digital asset number 1
Collector:
Benjamin W. Wells Jr.
Length:
179cm
Width:
123cm
Culture:
Niuean
Object Type:
Barkcloth
Place:
Pago Pago, American Samoa, United States, Polynesia
Collection Date:
1890
Specimen Count:
1
Notes:
Rectangular sheet of barkcloth. Natural light brown color background, painted with reddish brown and dark brown lines. Divided into a 3 x 3 grid, with different patterns in each section -- lines radiating from a circle, checkerboard, and diamonds. Many damaged areas, especially along the edges, some of them repaired with paper backing (see condition report). Adrienne Kaeppler, Curator of Oceania Ethnology, says that "although the designs on this tapa are also found on Samoan tapa, they are more characteristic of Niue."
Record Last Modified:
10 Jul 2017
Topic:
Ethnology
USNM Number:
E434501-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_12091751

Tapa Cloth

view Tapa Cloth digital asset number 1
Donor Name:
Edward Lovett
Length:
132.5cm
Width:
98cm
Object Type:
Barkcloth
Place:
Fiji, Melanesia
Accession Date:
16 Jan 1891
Specimen Count:
1
Notes:
Yellow tapa (or masi rerega) - made yellow from turmeric. Most likely to have been scraped tumeric and soaked in water for some time. Then the dye collected and tapa soaked in it to achieve the "yellow" color. This type of tapa was made especially for chiefs (those of chiefly rank), to make them feel special. It would have been plain yellow and given to chiefs out of respect. Nowadays they have the bottom stencilled (with patterns) for wedding garments. Now these special tapa are worn by all (not just by chiefs) for special occasions, e.g.: weddings, birthdays and births etc.. Note: Adrienne Kaeppler, Curator for Oceania Ethnology, does not think this tapa is from Fiji.
Record Last Modified:
4 Oct 2016
Topic:
Ethnology
Accession Number:
023950
USNM Number:
E151708-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8341475
Additional Online Media:

Tapa-Cloth

view Tapa-Cloth digital asset number 1
Donor Name:
Dr. Charles H. Wetmore
Object Type:
Barkcloth
Place:
Hawaii, United States, Polynesia
Accession Date:
1893-Nov-21
Specimen Count:
1
Notes:
Multiple layer (13, including cover pieces) kapa sampler book with front and back pieces watermarked Mamaki, apparently from the same piece; second piece may be as well (light brown); many of the pieces watermarked. Seventh piece fresh beaten and very fibrous; probably not Hawaiian. The third and 11th pieces are both made by taking two pieces, with the top layer having planned openings to show lower layer, and beating them together into one piece. E324476-0 and E168168-0: Sample books with almost same tapa cloth samples (each book has one additional pattern that is not in the other book). Appear to have been made at the same time.
Record Last Modified:
2 Dec 2014
Topic:
Ethnology
Accession Number:
027521
USNM Number:
E168168-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8348347
Additional Online Media:

Tapa Cloth

view Tapa Cloth digital asset number 1
Vessel:
U.S. Fish Commission Steamer "Albatross"
Expedition:
Albatross Expedition / U.S. Fish Commission
Donor Name:
Charles H. Townsend
H. F. Moore
Collector:
Charles H. Townsend
H. F. Moore
Length:
227.5cm
Width:
190.5cm
Object Type:
Barkcloth
Place:
Aitutaki Island, Cook Islands, Polynesia
Accession Date:
1900-Apr-17
Collection Date:
1899
Specimen Count:
1
Notes:
From card: "Coarse tapa with rude decoration in red, yellow, and brown. Said to be used by women. Enceinto. Two sheets pasted together, painted dull red outlined in black and yellow. Original tag: "Tapa made from the purau. Aitutake Is., Nov. 21, 1899. H.F.M. Said to be used by women enceinte [French word for "pregnant"]." (This information given by K.P. Emory, Bishop Museum, who also took very small sample). 6/24/[19]41."
Painted barkcloth. Probably kuru (breadfruit), per Jean Chapman-Mason and Nancy Moeauri, as it is similar in texture to E205161, which is also from Aitutaki. Catalogue card suggests cloth is purau/purautea (beach hibiscus; H. tiliaceus), the Ngaputoru (collective name of Atiu, Mauke & Mitiaro islands) word for 'au, which it very well could be but we have no way of knowing for certain since we have nothing to compare it with; we have not seen or heard of this type of tapa being made in our lifetimes and know of no surviving material from the Cook Islands. Adrienne Kaeppler, Curator for Oceania Ethnology, thinks this tapa is made from paper mulberry, not breadfruit. Cloth consists of two layers glued together. Designs are painted freehand on the top layer in colors of pale orange adn yellow, outlined in black. Black is likely soot obtained from burned candlenut (re'u tuitui); the pale orange pigment is probably from clay (one karaea), or river stone (po'oki kauvai), or mati berries (dye fig berries); the yellow color is most likely turmeric (renga), from which the maori word for yellow is derived, renga renga (another source of yellow is noni, M. citrifolia root). The underside of the cloth has been splattered with yellow and pale orange pigment. Some accidental splattering of black pigment on the top layer of the tapa. Patterning design not symmetrical, which could suggest different women worked at the diifferent ends. Catalogue card says this type of tapa was for pregnant women. Yellow tapa made in Aitutaki were indeed used by women (who had recently given birth); the fact that turmeric has antiseptic qualities certainly has something to do with that - apparently a new mother was covered with it immediately after giving birth.
Record Last Modified:
2 Jul 2015
Topic:
Ethnology
Accession Number:
036365
USNM Number:
E205163-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8357140
Additional Online Media:

Tapa Cloth

view Tapa Cloth digital asset number 1
Donor Name:
U.S. State Department
New Orleans Exposition
Object Type:
Barkcloth
Place:
Hawaii, United States, Polynesia
Accession Date:
1885
Specimen Count:
1
Notes:
From card: "Pink outside."
Consists of four layers with the top layer red; red fibers pounded in evenly across surface of top layer; sewn together with kapa.
Record Last Modified:
2 Dec 2014
Topic:
Ethnology
Accession Number:
017038
USNM Number:
E126934-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8333620
Additional Online Media:

Tapa Cloth

view Tapa Cloth digital asset number 1
Donor Name:
James D. Beans
Collector:
Brig. Gen. Fred D. Beans
Width:
42cm
Length:
46cm
Culture:
Samoan
Object Type:
Barkcloth
Place:
American Samoa, United States, Polynesia
Accession Date:
26 Jun 2001
Collection Date:
1940
Specimen Count:
1
Record Last Modified:
2 Dec 2014
Topic:
Ethnology
Accession Number:
2018438
USNM Number:
E430807-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8545971

Tapa Cloth

view Tapa Cloth digital asset number 1
Donor Name:
Col. Whitney Ashbridge
Collector:
William L. Whitney
Culture:
Samoan
Object Type:
Barkcloth
Place:
American Samoa (not certain), Samoa (not certain) / United States (not certain), Polynesia
Accession Date:
1980-Nov-07
Specimen Count:
1
Record Last Modified:
2 Feb 2017
Topic:
Ethnology
Accession Number:
339401
USNM Number:
E421267-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8453964

Tapa Cloth

view Tapa Cloth digital asset number 1
Donor Name:
U.S. State Department
New Orleans Exposition
Collector:
Us Consul D. A. McKinley
Object Type:
Barkcloth
Place:
Hawaii, United States, Polynesia
Accession Date:
1885-Oct-02
Specimen Count:
1
Notes:
Three layers, sewn with cotton thread at seam. Outer layer mainly red with red cloth beaten in evenly across surface, and with scattered bits of blue cloth beaten in also; two white inner layers.
Record Last Modified:
2 Dec 2014
Topic:
Ethnology
Accession Number:
016522
USNM Number:
E76558-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8479643
Additional Online Media:

Tapa Cloth

view Tapa Cloth digital asset number 1
Donor Name:
Charles H. Townsend
Collector:
Dr. C. H. Townsend
Length:
420.4cm
Width:
74.9cm
Culture:
Samoan
Object Type:
Barkcloth
Place:
American Samoa (not certain), Samoa (not certain) / United States (not certain), Polynesia
Accession Date:
1900-Feb-09
Specimen Count:
1
Notes:
Long, narrow bark cloth having fringe on one long edge. Geometric design in reddish-brown and black colors on light background.
This object is stored rolled.
Record Last Modified:
6 Jul 2015
Topic:
Ethnology
Accession Number:
036122
USNM Number:
E204605-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8356701
Additional Online Media:

Tapa Cloth

view Tapa Cloth digital asset number 1
Donor Name:
Mrs. C A. Kleinoscheg
Collector:
Richard K. Peck
Dr. Brandes
Culture:
Samoan
Object Type:
Barkcloth
Place:
American Samoa (not certain), Samoa (not certain) / United States (not certain), Polynesia
Accession Date:
1936-Feb-07
Collection Date:
1929
Specimen Count:
1
Record Last Modified:
10 Dec 2014
Topic:
Ethnology
Accession Number:
137754
USNM Number:
E377482-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8413845
Additional Online Media:

Tapa Cloth

view Tapa Cloth digital asset number 1
Donor Name:
Mrs. C A. Kleinoscheg
Collector:
Richard K. Peck
Dr. Brandes
Culture:
Samoan
Object Type:
Barkcloth
Place:
American Samoa (not certain), Samoa (not certain) / United States (not certain), Polynesia
Accession Date:
1936-Feb-07
Collection Date:
1929
Specimen Count:
1
Record Last Modified:
10 Dec 2014
Topic:
Ethnology
Accession Number:
137754
USNM Number:
E377481-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8413844
Additional Online Media:

Tapa Cloth

view Tapa Cloth digital asset number 1
Donor Name:
U.S. State Department
New Orleans Exposition
Collector:
Us Consul D. A. McKinley
Object Type:
Barkcloth
Place:
American Samoa (not certain) / Hawaii (not certain), Samoa (not certain) / United States (not certain), Polynesia
Accession Date:
8 Oct 1885
Collection Date:
1885
Specimen Count:
1
Record Last Modified:
6 May 2016
Topic:
Ethnology
Accession Number:
016588
USNM Number:
E76555-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8479640
Additional Online Media:

Tapa Cloth

view Tapa Cloth digital asset number 1
Donor Name:
Mrs. Joseph Harrison Jr.
George Catlin
Collector:
George Catlin
Culture:
Polynesian
Object Type:
Barkcloth
Place:
Hawaii, United States, Polynesia
Accession Date:
1881-Oct-21
Specimen Count:
1
Notes:
From card: "Fragmentary piece, brownish red, with red parallel line decoration. Possibly Hawaiian (S.H.R.) [curator Saul H. Riesenberg]."
Poor condition, brittle and had been folded for many years. Mysterious thread stitched through 2 layers. Decoration of parallel lines made with comb or line-stamping tool.
Presuming George Catlin did indeed collect this tapa, it would date prior to 1852.
Record Last Modified:
12 Apr 2017
Topic:
Ethnology
Accession Number:
010638
USNM Number:
E386572-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8420589
Additional Online Media:

Tapa cloth

view Tapa cloth digital asset number 1
Medium:
Medium: beaten bark (tapa) Technique: printed and painted Label: printed and painted beaten bark cloth (tapa)
Type:
non-woven textiles
Tapa cloth
Made in:
Samoa
Date:
20th century
Catalogue Status:
Research in Progress
Description:
Large rectangular tapa, printed with blocks of geometric diamond and zigzag patterns in reddish-brown in a repeating fashion. Dark brown diamonds, squares and dots are hand-painted and do not repeat.
Credit Line:
Museum purchase from Friends of Textiles Fund
Accession Number:
1976-33-3
See more items in:
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Collection
Textiles Department
Data Source:
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:chndm_1976-33-3

Tapa cloth

view Tapa cloth digital asset number 1
Medium:
Medium: mulberry tree bark Technique: beaten, painted
Type:
non-woven textiles
Tapa cloth
Made in:
Pacific Islands
possibly Samoa
Date:
late 19th–early 20th century
Catalogue Status:
Research in Progress
Description:
Panel of tapa cloth painted blue and brown showing bands of chevron within a thin brown frame. Center of design composed of ten quatrefoils. Border of unpainted cloth.
Accession Number:
1971-84-2
See more items in:
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Collection
Textiles Department
Data Source:
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:chndm_1971-84-2

Tapa cloth

view Tapa cloth digital asset number 1
Medium:
Medium: mulberry tree bark Technique: beaten, painted
Type:
non-woven textiles
Tapa cloth
Made in:
Pacific Islands
possibly Samoa
Date:
late 19th–early 20th century
Catalogue Status:
Research in Progress
Description:
Panel of tapa cloth painted to show a dark brown frame containing twelve compartments of geometric designs. Compartments are divided by bands of chevron, diamonds and waving lines. Border of unpainted cloth.
Accession Number:
1971-84-4
See more items in:
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Collection
Textiles Department
Data Source:
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:chndm_1971-84-4

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