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Object: Siapo mamanu (tapa)

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Title Siapo mamanu (tapa)
Production Unknown, 1930s, Tutuila
Medium summary tapa
Materials bark cloth, tapa, dye
Classification textiles
Dimensions Overall: x 3483mm (Length) x 1800mm (Width/Depth)
Credit line Gift of Mrs Roma Miller, 1986
Registration number FE008126

Samoan barkcloth is made from the bark of the u`a or paper mulberry tree (Broussonetia papyrifera) although in the past it was occasionally made from the inner bark of the breadfruit or banyan tree. It is decorated using dyes made from a variety of trees and plants. The brown dyes come from several sources, the first being the bark of the o`a tree. Scrapings of bark from this tree produce a reddish brown colour. Other sources of brown were the mangrove tree (Rhizophora mucronata) and the candlenut tree (Aleurites moluccana) A source of red-brown colouring was an earth ochre called `ele. It is not found every where in Samoa and in the past was traded quite widely throughout the archipelago.

Decoration techniques

There are two methods used to decorate Samoan barkcloth. The first method produces siapo mamanu and involves the freehand painting of patterns on to the barkcloth. There is a range of motifs used in this process that are taken directly from plants and animals. These are painted on with a little brush made from a dried pandanus fruit or something similar. In the making of a siapo mamanu motifs are arranged in an infinite number of ways to create very distinctive and individual pieces of decorated siapo.

Acquisition history

This siapo was collected by Reverend Perkins LMS on "small island off Tutuila" in 1938. It was owned by Mrs D.M.Miller of Eastbourne , Wellington and later presented to Te Papa by Mrs Roma Miller.

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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.