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Topic: Tapa: Pacific Style - Samoan siapo

Is part of topic Tapa: Pacific Style

Samoan siapo (tapa cloth) is usually made from the inner bark of the u'a (paper mulberry tree), and decorated with natural dyes from a range of trees, plants, and clays.

Before the early 1900s, the most popular decorating technique was freehand painting, known as siapo mamanu. This technique gave the artist freedom to be creative, and resulted in a variety of styles.

From the 1920s, the 'upeti (pattern board) became the most popular decorating technique. Originally siapo makers used 'upeti made of woven pandanus leaves, but now they prefer more durable carved wooden boards.

This collection narrative is based on the Tapa: Pacific Style exhibition on display at Te Papa, level 4 (September 2009 - September 2010).

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