Bark cloth

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Object detail

Bark cloth, rectangular, with large patterned painted surface of abstract design.
CH classification INDIGENOUS CULTURES Melanesian & South Sea Islander bark cloth
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L1745 x W740mm
Media/Materials description
Plant fibre, Natural pigment
History and use
In Eromanga (Vanuatu), bark Cloth or tapa is known as NEMASITSE, which means 'beaten cloth'.

Tapa, ngatu, kapa, masi, lepau and siapo are names used across the Pacific for barkcloth. Each place and people has their own unique way for making their barkcloth. Some are made by women but in some place men also make bark cloth.

The use of tapa is also a way for people from the Pacific Islands diaspora to continue their alignment and identification with island practices.

Tapa can be used in everyday life as a wall divider, curtain, tablecloth, decorative wall hanging, place mat, blanket or can be worn in a style of an apron, cape, poncho, skirt, hat and bags.

Tapa is also used for special ceremonies like births, initiations, deaths and marriages. It is also used during celebrations at special family gatherings like homecomings, feasting, at community meetings, and graduations. Many Islanders consider tapa an important element in the practice of gift giving.
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