Tapa cloth design  

History of Tapa Cloth Designs 

Siapo, also known as tapa, is one of the oldest Pacific cultural art forms. For centuries, Tapa cloth designs have illustrated the Pacific environment along with the Pacific way of life.

At Pacific Learners, we love producing videos that highlight different cultures and customs.

The design elements or patterns that are used are typical of plants, animals, insects and other items that you might find around a Pacific village, so the designs are interesting, for example: The Tuslil’I are small lines or wavy lines. The small lines represent the midrib of the coconut leaf. The wavey lines symbolize the hand woven sennit which is the braided coconut fiber.

The Fa’a tumoa / fa’a moa fai or Banana pod is used in two ways, the closed or unbloomed banana pod …… or the blooming pod with its petals open.

In this short video, we highlight a range of common tapa design elements, and the origins behind them.

If you are interested in more cultural videos, head over to our Videos Page and click the CULTURE tab, if you want to learn more about Siapo designs click here.


5 facts you might not know about TAPA cloth 

  1. Tapa cloth is made from bark that has been softened through a process of oaking a beating. 
  2. Take was invented as early as the sixth century B.C, tress of the Moraceae family was used.
  3. Tapa cloth originated from Polynesia.
  4. Tapa can range from a few hundred to over $20,000, depending on size, design and quality. 
  5. While tapa cloth is most often recognized as a Polynesian craft, it has also been made in South America, Indonesia, New Guinea, Melanesia, and parts of Africa

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