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Bark cloth (Tapa)
MFA# 85.485


A thin, paper-like cloth made from the bark of the breadfruit (Artocarpus communis ) or the paper mulberry tree (Broussonetia papyrifera ) on the islands of the South Pacific. Stalks from the tree are cut and stripped of their outer bark, then the white inner bark is softened in water and pounded to a flat, thin sheet. Tapa is used for clothing, wall coverings, lamp shades, paper, and painting.

Synonyms and Related Terms

bark cloth; tapa cloth; kapa cloth (Hawaii); hale kua; ngatu (Tonga); siapo (Samoa); masi (Fiji);

Pictorial tapa
MFA# 2002.788
Bark cloth (Tapa)
MFA# 99.127

Resources and Citations

  • Bishop Museum: Care of Tapa° R. Neich, M. Pendergrast, Traditional Tapa Textiles of the Pacific, Thames and Hudson, 1997.
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • Silvie Turner, Which Paper?, Design Press, New York, 1991
  • Book and Paper Group, Paper Conservation Catalog, AIC, 1984, 1989
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 580

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