Object: Kapa (tapa)
This image has No Known Copyright Restrictions.
To the best of Te Papa’s knowledge, under New Zealand law:
- there is no copyright or other intellectual property rights in this work in New Zealand; and
- the work may be copied and otherwise re-used in New Zealand without copyright or other intellectual property rights related restriction.
Te Papa will not be liable to you, on any legal basis (including negligence), for any loss or damage you suffer through your use of this material, except in those cases where the law does not allow us to exclude or limit our liability to you.
Unknown, 1770s, Hawaii
|Medium summary||bark cloth|
|Materials||plant fibre, bark cloth|
|Classification||ceremonial objects, textiles|
|Technique||sewing, painting techniques|
x 645mm (Width)
|Credit line||Gift of the Trustees of the Turnbull Estate, 1918|
This piece of Hawaiian kapa (Hawaiian barkcloth), with three other similar pieces, are part of a small but important group of Pacific textiles presented to the Dominion Museum (Te Papa's predecessor) by the trustees of Alexander Turnbull's estate after his death. A note in the museum's register at the time indicates that at least some of these textiles were collected during the Pacific voyages of eighteenth-century English explorer James Cook. However, the Cook provenance is so far unproven.
A large amount of kapa was collected by members of Cook's third voyage (1776-1780). Much was cut up into small pieces, which were often pasted or bound into books. The four pieces from the Turnbull collection are large compared with most known examples. They are typical of kapa collected on Cook's third voyage, which is significantly different from later Hawaiian kapa. All four pieces reflect the eighteenth-century Hawaiian practice of stitching pieces of plain barkcloth together to make much larger pieces before applying the decoration. In each case there is a neat seam on the underside.
Kapa was used for three types of clothing: men's loincloths, women's skirts (which were sometimes wrapped many times around the body), and capes or cloaks which, at a distance, rivalled the beauty of the more valuable feathered cloaks. Kapa was also used as room dividers or decorations in houses. As in other parts of Polynesia, it formed part of ceremonial presentations; some was even formally presented to Cook.
Find additional information about this object at these sites
- Google Art Project
Results from DigitalNZ
Searching 27 million digital objects from over 150 content partners across New Zealand
- [introduction] - Samoan Material Culture - Victoria University of Wellington
- Bark Cloth - Samoan Material Culture - Victoria University of Wellington
- MAORI JURYMEN. (Wanganui Chronicle, 07 April 1883) - National Library of New Zealand
- A TOURING SAVANT. (Poverty Bay Herald, 09 November 1912) - National Library of New Zealand
Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.