Definition of Tapa

Or Tapa Cloth. This is a Barkcloth - cloth made from bark. The bark of the paper mulberry or breadfruit tree is usually used to make this fabric. The outer bark is stripped from young saplings, and the white inner layers are peeled off. These narrow strips are soaked in water until soft; then pounded with grooved mallets, spreading the bark into increasingly wider strips until they are about ten inches wide. The edges are then overlapped and glued with manioc root juice, breadfruit, or arrowroot starch to make wide sheets. Tapa, has been produced throughout the islands of the South Pacific (Polynesia and Melanesia). The people of Tonga, Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa and other islands make this cloth in distinctive styles for both functional and ceremonial purposes. In Tonga, Tapa is called ngatu, in Samoa it is siapo, and in Fiji, masi.

Derivation of Tapa: Tahitian word probably meaning Bark.

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