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Object Timeline

1915

  • Work on this object ended.

1958

  • We acquired this object.

2008

2013

2017

  • You found it!

Bark Cloth, Large panel of tapa cloth, 19th or early 20th century

This is a Bark cloth. It is dated 19th or early 20th century and we acquired it in 1958. Its medium is broussonetia bark and its technique is beaten bark fiber, rubbed and hand painted. It is a part of the Textiles department.

Tapa, a general term used to describe Polynesian bark cloth, is made from the inner bark of the Broussonetia tree that has been hand beaten, scraped, pressed, and patterned to create printed cloth. In Samoa, two methods are used to produce large pieces of printed bark cloth. One method consists of pasting smaller strips of bark cloth together while simultaneously applying colored designs by rubbing the material on design tablets (upeti) loaded with natural pigments. The second method consists of piecing and adhering bark cloth strips to create a larger textile prior to patterning and dyeing. Many of the designs used in Samoan siapo (completed bark cloth) are geometric and linear. This siapo is patterned with the basic hallmarks of Samoan bark cloth design: rectangles with filled diagonals interspersed and decorated with bands of diamond patterning. The repetitive use of these shapes transforms the cloth into a rich and rhythmic textile with dynamic visual interest.

This object was donated by Mrs. Henry J. Bernheim. It is credited Gift of Mrs. Henry J. Bernheim.

Our curators have highlighted 1 object that are related to this one.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 177.8 x 128.3 cm (5 ft. 10 in. x 50 1/2 in.)

Cite this object as

Bark Cloth, Large panel of tapa cloth, 19th or early 20th century; Samoa; broussonetia bark; H x W: 177.8 x 128.3 cm (5 ft. 10 in. x 50 1/2 in.); Gift of Mrs. Henry J. Bernheim; 1958-140-8

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18421361/ |title=Bark Cloth, Large panel of tapa cloth, 19th or early 20th century |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=21 September 2017 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>

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