Where tapa comes from and how it is used in the Pacific 

Tapa cloth comes from the inner bark of various trees such as the paper mulberry, banyan, and breadfruit. Generally, the inner bark is first cleaned and soaked in water before the beating process begins. Wooden or stone beaters are used to expand the fibrous material.

 
Cartography by Terralink © 2010 Terralink International Limited

 

papua new guinea

Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, with over 800 languages and at least as many cultural groups. But only a few of these groups make tapa cloth.
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solomon islands

The very diverse cultural groups of the Solomon Islands create different kinds of tapa for different uses.
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vanuatu

Nemasitse is bark cloth that was made on the island of Erromango in Vanuatu until the early 20th century. Women made several types of nemasitse that were both decorated and plain. Some were used as floor coverings or blankets. Decorated pieces were worn as ceremonial garments.
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fiji

Fijian masi (tapa) has customarily been used for ceremonies, such as weddings or the conferring of a chiefly title.
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uvea (wallis) & futuna

The two island groups known as Uvéa (Wallis) and Futuna form one French overseas territory.
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tonga

In Tonga, tapa cloth is known as ngatu. It is highly valued and used for special ceremonies such as weddings and funerals.
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samoa

Samoan siapo (tapa cloth) is usually made from the inner bark of the ua (paper mulberry tree), and decorated with natural dyes from a range of trees, shrubs, and clays.
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American Samoa

These siapo (tapa cloths) were made in American Samoa a group of islands east of Samoa and currently a territory of the United States.
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niue

In the 1830s, Samoan missionaries who were part of the London Missionary Society introduced tapa-making to Niue. Little is known about Niuean hiapo (tapa) before that time, although there were accounts of Niueans wearing hiapo as a loincloth. 
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cook islands

The volcanic soil of some atolls in the Southern Cook Islands was fertile ground for paper mulberry, banyan, and breadfruit trees. 
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hawaii

The history of kapa (tapa) in Hawaii follows the history of Hawaii itself.
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