Tapa Cloth Skirt

For years tapa making was one of the most essential and sophisticated plant fiber technologies in the Pacific Islands and Sulawesi, Indonesia.  Tapa used as both daily and ceremonial clothing, used from bedcovers to ceremonial headdresses and skirts.

Tapa surrounded the people at birth, wedding, and death. The preservation of the tapas is especially difficult in humid climates because of the temperature fluctuations and humidity. The production of Asian and European cotton contributed to the decline of hand-produced tapa.

Paper Mulberry is not indigenous to the islands of the Pacific but was propagated by plant cuttings carried as early as 3,000 years ago from Asia to Indonesia and finally to settlements throughout the Pacific Islands and Indonesia.

Tapa is generally the more popular term for “beaten barkcloth.” Barkcloth making technology was once known in communities covering nearly half of the globe. Barkcloth making is very similar to papermaking. On most islands, women produce barkcloth. The process involves cultivation, harvesting, cutting the trees, separating bark, soaking, scarping, and cleaning. The inner bark is beaten into a flat sheet which joins the flattened sheets to make a larger cloth. Then the cloth is decorated according to the occasion. This particular cloth has abstract sunburst and plant-like motifs with water buffalo and human figures.



Circa: Early 20th

Origin: Sulawesi, Indonesia

Material: Barkcloth

Condition: Excellent

Dimensions: 51" X 58"

Inventory number: TX4895



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