kapa kulture

This blog is dedicated to Hawaiian kapa and matters related to Hawai'i nei…kuku kapa e!

Bark Cloth on the Island of Uvea is Ngatu

Closely related to Tonga, the term for bark cloth in the island of Uvea is ngatu. Paper mulberry, Broussonetia papyrifera, or hiapo, is cultivated on the east coast where rainfall is heavy. Double layers of ngatu are beaten out and pasted together and are designed using freehand designs or kupesi-imprinted methods. If the kupesi pattern block is used, it is made form the midrib of leaf sewn to wads of leaf as in Tonga, and this is the traditional style for Uvea to make designs on the cloth.

Contemporary kupesi are carved in wood. Freehand painting is also done. The design motifs have changed over time from simple, repetitious patterns to modern designs that show a slice of life such as drinking kava, dancing, climbing trees, and fishing. Uses of ngatu include bed covers and screens, and clothing. There are two types of wrap-around skirts that are distinct in Uvea. One called a lafi that is decorated using the kupesi and then over-painted with black dye. The second is called a tohihina, which is decorated completely with freehand design using a pen in black dye on white ngatu cloth.

Ngatu of Uvea

Ngatu of Uvea

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