Object: Hiapo (tapa cloth)
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|Title||Hiapo (tapa cloth)|
Unknown, 1800s, Niue
|Medium summary||tapa cloth|
|Materials||bark cloth, dye|
x 1580mm (Width)
|Credit line||Augustus Hamilton Collection. Purchased 1914|
This is a hiapo, a decorated barkcloth from Niue. Little is known of pre-nineteenth-century forms of Niuean cloth, except that, in the 1830s, Samoan methods of decorating barkcloth were introduced to Niue by Samoan missionaries. Consequently, the patterns and motifs on Niuean hiapo from the mid nineteenth century are often indistinguishable from Samoan pieces of the same period.
Materials and decoration
This hiapo is made from the bark of the paper mulberry tree. It has been decorated with hand-drawn motifs. In the 1880s, many hiapo were produced with a new style of fine freehand decoration. Comprising intricate line work and detailed motifs based on various species of plants, a distinctly Niuean iconography developed. Some scholars believe that many hiapo from this period were made by a single small community on Niue. They make this claim on the basis of a continuity of style and motifs, and the recurrence of particular peoples' names on signed pieces of hiapo.
This hiapo is one of several Niuean barkcloth items, including tiputa (ponchos), that was collected around the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by Augustus Hamilton, Director of the Dominion Museum (Te Papa's predecessor) from 1903 to 1913.
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