University of Hawai’i Press
Robert Neich & Mick Pendergrast
photography by Krzysztof Pfeiffer
Softcover, 160 pp.
Tapa cloth, made from the inner bark of certain trees, is one of the most distinctive products of the cultures of the Pacific islands. In several parts of Melanesia from New Guinea to Vanuatu, in Fiji, and on most of the high islands of Polynesia from Hawai’i in the north to Tahiti, the Marquesas, Tonga, Samoa, Niue, the Cook Islands, and even New Zealand, the manufacture of barkcloth is an ancient craft that has been practiced for thousands of years.
Auckland Museum’s collection of tapa cloth from around the Pacific is one of the most extensive in the world and it forms the basis of this comprehensive survey. Pacific Tapa presents a complete range of the art of tapa, from cloth brought back from the first voyages by Europeans to the Pacific to contemporary examples of the art. The origins, materials, and manufacturing techniques are described, as well as tapa’s cultural context and uses in weddings, funerals, clothing, dance, and ornament.