Cloth and Culture in Oceana: Bark Cloth from Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, & the Marquesas Islands

EXHIBIT / 15 February – 13 March 2005 / UCSC Women’s Center

This exhibit features tapa (bark cloth) from Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, and the Marquesas, produced from the late 19th century to the present. Found throughout Oceania, tapa is an elaborately decorated textile made from the beaten bark of trees. The making of tapa and the motifs used to embellish it are deeply connected to the continuity of indigenous culture both on the islands and for those living in diaspora. Given as gifts at weddings, funerals, and other ceremonial occasions, tapa cloths remain a central form of women’s wealth in Oceanic and diasporic communities, mediating social, economic, cultural and transnational relationships.

Speaker Series

The speaker series features scholars whose talks will illustrate the continuing significance of tapa as a cultural form, in a variety of locations.

HILARY SCOTHORN Florida State University
Samoan Siapo: Invention & Interaction in the West Polynesian Trade Triangle
Tuesday, February 15 / 12-1:45 / Earth & Marine B210

CAROLINE KLARR Florida State University
Tradition & Innovation in Fijian Bark Cloth (Masi)
Thursday, February 17 / 12-1:45 / Earth & Marine B210

PING-ANN ADDO Yale University
Tongan Women, Textiles, and Transnational Identities: Reoections on Revived Bark Cloth (Tapa) Making Practices in Oakland & Auckland
Tuesday, February 22 / 12-1:45 / Earth & Marine B210

CAROL IVORY Washington State University
Marquesan Tapa for Contemporary Times: The Story of Omoa Village
Thursday, March 3 / 12-1:45 / Earth & Marine B210

For information, contact: Stacy Kamehiro, History of Art & Visual Culture Department, 459-2085,

Sponsored by the Pacific Islands Research Cluster and the Arts Research Institute