Click to enlargeAuthentic White Tapa

Bark cloth, or tapa has been produced throughout Polynesia for centuries.
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Valued for its usefulness and decorations, tapa has been used as clothing, currency, bedding, serving as a wick in the kukui oil lamps and torches, bandages, and marriage and burial ceremonies.

Our tapa is made in Samoa. It's bleached whiteness allows for all kinds of uses. It is hand made and as such shows variations in length, width and thickness. Holes are created from where branches were attached. Using traditional methods, these beautiful pieces were created for various modern uses including those creative ideas of Polynesian dancers and craftsmen.

Average length is 6 feet, average width is 12 inches.

Tapa has traditionally been made by women. There are several ways in which tapa is made. Depending on what island, you'll find slight differences in preparation, decoration and use. Tapa is made from the inner bark of fiberous tropical trees. Of these, the most common tree used is the paper mulberry or breadfruit tree.

Tapa making starts by securing the inner bark fibers, soaking them in sea water until they become soft, and beating them into desired texture and length. Using plant based starch, the pieces are glued together and integrated to make larger pieces. Usually, a piece of clothing is made up of more than one layer as natural variations including holes are inevitably found. It was more than often that the tapa was decorated with dyes. These dyes were made from plants, ash and soot. Some tapa was also bleached in the sun to make white.

The process of making tapa requires a great deal of skill, knowledge, time and practice. Not to mention the need for the raw material and instruments and if desired, artistic creativity and dyes for the intricate motifs seen on many pieces of tapa.

Temporarily out of stock

More handicrafts from Polynesia:

Authentic White Tapa
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Everything Tahiti
Everything Hawaii
Everything Maori
A Touch of Samoa

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