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A Very Large Fijian Tapa Cloth

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A Very Large Fijian Tapa Cloth

Decorated with Union Jacks, one must presume that it was made to commemorate Fiji becoming a British Protectorate in 1874

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A Very Large Fijian Tapa Cloth

Fiji

1874-1920

Dimensions: Width 196cm height 152.5 (77 x 60 in)

This large tapa or masi (in the Fijian language) is of particularly fine quality with intricate geometric designs in natural black and brown pigments. This indicates that it would have been made for presentation to an important person, perhaps a foreign dignitary. Since Fifi became a British Protectorate in 1874 and to the centre of the cloth are two union jacks it may well have been made to commemorate this event.

The tapa was made by the laborious process of beating the bark of the paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera), and a masi of this quality would have involved several weeks of labour by a village or extended family.

Bibliography:

Traditional Tapa Textiles of the Pacific by R. Neich and M. Prendergrast, pub. London 1997

Yalo i Viti: A Fiji Museum Catalogue by Fergus Clunie pub. 1986

Tapa on Moce Island Fiji by E J Brill pub. Leiden 1977

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