Siapo (Tapa cloth)

The making of barkcloth or tapa was once widespread throughout the islands of the Pacific. Today it is most strongly practised in the west Polynesian island groups of Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa. Barkcloth made in Samoa is called siapo.

Siapo makers use the bark of the u'a (paper mulberry tree) to make their cloth. The bark is carefully peeled off the tree in strips and then the inner bark is separated and scraped clean. It is then pounded until it widens into a larger size. The pieces of cloth go through a process where they are pasted together to make a larger cloth then decorated; either freehand or by taking rubbings off a relief pattern carved into a plank or board. The dyes are made from a variety of plants and trees.

Siapo (tapa cloth), Samoa, barkcloth

Siapo (tapa cloth)

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Siapo (tapa cloth), Samoa, barkcloth