Hiapo (tapa cloth), result 1 of 1
This is a hiapo, a decorated barkcloth from Niue. Little is known of pre-nineteenth-century forms of Niuean cloth, except that, in the 1830s, Samoan methods of decorating barkcloth were introduced to Niue by Samoan missionaries. Consequently, the patterns and motifs on Niuean hiapo from the mid nineteenth century are often indistinguishable from Samoan pieces of the same period.
Materials and decoration
This hiapo is made from the bark of the paper mulberry tree. It has been decorated with hand-drawn motifs. In the 1880s, many hiapo were produced with a new style of fine freehand decoration. Comprising intricate line work and detailed motifs based on various species of plants, a distinctly Niuean iconography developed. Some scholars believe that many hiapo from this period were made by a single small community on Niue. They make this claim on the basis of a continuity of style and motifs, and the recurrence of particular peoples' names on signed pieces of hiapo.
The origin of this hiapo is not recorded. However, a long string of hand-written lettering in one corner of the cloth may offer some clues. The inscription reads: HA KETH TONI TATE TONE MOTIE NAIKIA PETA TA E KE LUTE MALIE TONE TATE TO. (This is not a direct quote as the words are comprised of a mixture of upper and lower case letters, with some back to front.)
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