Our Museum lesson - Tapa cloth from Tonga (Ngatu)
How to make Tapa cloth:
They use the Paper Mulberry trees (tutu). They peel off the bark with their teeth in strips. Then to make the cloth they bash the strips with the ike. Once they are flat they patch up any holes with tapioca flour and a special glue. Then they put lots of layers together and glue them in a criss cross pattern to make it thick.
Each village have their own pattern kupesi eg diamonds, triangles and images. The kupesi is like a template made from bark and coconut stalk. They put it under the cloth and they rub and paint to bring out the design. The paint is made from a koka tree bark which is boiled down.
In Tonga the Tapa cloth is used as money or a koha for births, deaths and marriages.
These are very precious and we hope to explore more with Tapa patterns in the future.