kapa kulture

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

Archive for the category “Research Project”

Hoʻowehi i ke kapa

Today I am experimenting with various dyes and creating colors that will be used to dye the kapa I have made. I will hoʻawa, extract dye colors from plants, to make ka waihoʻoluʻu, the dye, using ʻōlena for yellow, ʻukiʻuki for blue… overlapped they might make green… we shall see…will post photos later…

The botanical names for these dye plants are:

ʻōlena

ʻōlena ~ Curcuma longa


ʻōlena plant

ʻōlena plant

ʻukiʻuki ~ Dianella Sandwicensis

ʻukiʻuki ~ Dianella sandwicensis

~ALOHA~

Hawaiian Word of the Day: pōpoki

pōpoki: Cat (said by some to be derived from English “poor pussy”). Pōpoki kī, a spitting cat [spiteful, malignant person]. Pōpoki lehu, Maltese cat; lit., ash cat. Pōpoki nāwaliwali, weak cat [a weakling]. Pōpoki peʻelua, gray cat with darker markings, as a tabby cat; lit., caterpillar cat.

ko'u pōpoki, my cat

ko’u pōpoki, my cat

Tapa from Fiji is called Masi

Fijian Masi
The term for the beaten cloth in Fiji is masi. The method for making masi is basically the same as in Tonga where it is prepared using a process of soaking and beating the inner bast of the paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera) is followed by pasting the pounded sheets together for length and strength.

Fiji Masi

Fiji Masi

In the past, men commonly wore a malo or masi, which is a strip of plain white bark cloth wound around the waist and between the legs, with a train billowing behind. The longer the length of the train, the greater the chiefly status. For women, everyday clothing was a skirt called a liku. Masi is considered nearly obsolete for traditional dress since its replacement by western style clothing and textiles. Traditional dress styles using masi are not worn as everyday wear but they are still used for dances and important ceremonies like the installation of a chief, or special family occasions.

Traditional Wedding Dress

Traditional Wedding Dress

Ceremonial masi on the occasions of funerals, weddings, and chiefly ceremonies is ongoing. The bride and groom will be wrapped in long pieces of masi, in the customary fashion, and similar coverings would be worn when chiefs are installed. There is great honor associated with masi and it is a symbol of wealth. Gifts of masi are given in extravagance for marriages. It is a source of pride for the whole village to produce this exchange of wealth. Masi is very significant at death and is presented as a gift when someone dies. There is spiritual power associated with masi, as it was “recognized as having ability to carry the strength of the gods” (Fulmer, 1998).

Fijian Chiefs Wearing Masi Depicted on  Commemorative Stamps

Fijian Chiefs Wearing Masi Depicted on Commemorative Stamps

Design work of Fijian Masi
There is a variety of techniques used in Fiji to decorate the masi. They range from freehand painting with pandanus brushes as in Samoa, to Fijian rollers and stencils, to the design tablets of Tongan influence. The finished lengths of masi decorated using rubbing tablets with midrib patterns are known as gatu vakatoga, translated as “Tongan cloth made in the Tongan way.” Gatu vakaviti is a combination of the Tongan rubbing method and the Fijian stencil application method. Gatu vakaviti literally means, “Tongan cloth in the style of Fiji” (Neich & Pendergrast, 1997).

Do you want to know more about Fiji? Here are two good articles that explain current events, traditional foundations, and colonial history:

TRADITIONAL CHIEFS REMAIN CORNERSTONE IN CHANGING FIJI

Fiji’s military ruler disbands Great Council of Chiefs

Fiji in Oceania

Fiji in Oceania

Hawaiian Word of the Day: hāʻawi

hāʻawi: To give, grant, allot, hand, present; to bid as at auction; to offer; to deal, as cards; a deal. Hāʻawi lokomaikaʻi, to give freely, open-handed. Hāʻawi wale, to give freely, gratis.

ʻukiʻuki ~ Dianella Sandwichensis

ʻukiʻuki ~ Dianella Sandwicensis


Ka ukiʻuki ʻo ia haʻawi. The ʻukiʻuki it’s giving.

Hawaiian Word of the Day: heiau

heiau: Pre-Christian place of worship, shrine; some heiau were elaborately constructed stone platforms, others simple earth terraces. Many are preserved today. Several types are listed below. On the island of Kauaʻi where I live, there are 17 heiau located in the Na Pali district, 22 in the district of Haleleʻa, 20 in the Koʻolau district, 13 in the Puna district, and 81 in Kona district. Dedication of these heiau were to the four major gods; KU, KANE, KANALOA, and LONO, who represented Akua in natual phenomena. ʻAumakua were also honored by prayer and offerings.

Hale heiau, house of worship.

heiau hoʻōla: Heiau for treating sick.

heiau hoʻouluʻai: Heiau where first fruits were offered to insure further growth. Lit., heiau for the increase of food crops.

heiau hoʻoulu ua: Heiau where offerings were made to insure rain.

heiau hoʻoulu iʻa: Heiau where fish were offered to insure good fishing.

heiau kālua ua: Heiau for stopping rain, or (less frequently) for bringing rain. One such heiau named Imu-Kālua-ua (rain-baking oven) was in the Kaunakakai quadrangle, Molokaʻi; a land section in Puna, Hawaiʻi, also has this name. Rain in leaf packages is said to have been baked in an oven.

heiau maʻo: Small temporary heiau covered with tapa stained green (maʻo). Used for the hoʻouluʻai ceremony to bring food.

heiau poʻo kanaka: Heiau where human sacrifice was offered.

heiau waikaua: Heiau used for services to bring success in war.

luakini: Temple, church, cathedral, tabernacle; large heiau where ruling chiefs prayed and human sacrifices were offered; to perform temple work.

Luakini-type heiau were the largest and most complex and were sacrificial to KU. The KANE heiau were the simplest and were accessible to commoners. LONO heiau were dedicated to agriculture, and KANALOA heiau were associated with fishing. KU and LONO required complex worship and offerings.

Puʻu honua were places of refuge and restoration of pono when kapu was broken. The puʻu honua were consistent with Hawaiian protocol and would not be adjacent to heiau where human sacrifice was conducted. For example, at the puʻu honua at Wailua, Kauaʻi were for royal birth and burial. At such a place of mana and esteem, respite and peace was sought and mau haʻa lelea or repentance was made.

heiau tower

http://www.kaimi.org/heiau.htm

Moʻokini Luakini

Recent Journey

I have been away from home, my computer, and this blog for the past 2 months. Been traveling around a bit. Headed first to O’ahu where I attended the 12th Annual Hawai’i International Conference on Social Sciences. That was an intellectual teaser of sorts. It opened my eyes to what educators are currently studying as research topics. I presented my research about kapa and some applications that can be made to mainstream education. Education reforms are desperately needed and a complete overhaul to public school education seems in order. I propose embracing cultural domains where diverse worldviews are explored as paradigms. I was excited to share my research and it was well received. My presentation was short and to the point. At that time, I had not written out my full findings or outcomes. I will share some of these outcomes here in due time.

Next, I ventured to Florida where I studied at the University of Florida in Gainesville. I went there to complete the tail end of my graduate program and my Masters of Arts degree in Art Education (received August 13… whoopee! I did it in two and a half years). I attended two studio art courses this summer: Printmaking with Bob Meuller, and Sketchbook with Patrick Grigsby. The most important take-away? Make studio practice a priority!! An artist has to do as a singer has to sing as a dancer has to dance… I am looking forward to getting deeper into making more art, including more kapa! ~aloha~

self portrait, 2013

self portrait, 2013

Dyes & Designs in Samoan Siapo

Faʻa Samoa…In the Samoan Way…

Natural Dye
Dyes used in Samoan siapo come from nature. They are extracted or ground from nuts, tree bark, tree sap, roots, and seeds. There are five colors collected: oʻa is brown, lama is black, ago is yellow, loa is red, and soaʻa is purple. The traditional designs are symbols that reflect Samoan natural environment. There are 13 symbols used in siapo and they represent nets, coconut leaf and sennit, the trochus shell, pandanus blooms, pandanus leaves, breadfruit leaf, sandpiper bird designs, starfish, banana pod, rolled pandanus leaves, worm (this is almost extinct), centipede (which has been discontinued), and lastly, logologo (not found in modern siapo to the point that the meaning of this design has been lost). Original siapo artworks are made by combining these design elements (siapo.com).

Design Methods
There are two kinds of siapo design application methods practiced in Samoa and they are Siapo ʻElei (the rubbing method) and Siapo Mamanu (the freehand method). The Siapo ʻElei method leaves an imprint on the uʻa (bark cloth material). This is done by laying the uʻa on a design printing block that is carved into wood, called an upeti, and rubbing the uʻa with a swab that has been dipped in oʻa. Oʻa is a brown dye that is extracted from the bark of the Bishofia javanica, or blood tree. This is a pest in the Hawaiian Islands where it is known as the Bishop Tree or is called koko (blood). It is also called koko in Tonga and other island languages. The oʻa changes color over time from a pale tan to a rich, dark brown.

The next step in the process is to rub a red color over to define the design. Arrowroot plant is used as glue and is dabbed on any small holes, and then a second layer is placed on top and rubbing the oʻa is repeated, this time pressing the two layers together. Sections are joined using arrowroot and rubbing. This is usually the end of the process for large pieces known as ululima and uluselau. But for smaller pieces called vala, the design might be highlighted with more brown dye. Upeti in the older form was of both the sewn midrib variety as in Tongan kupesi, and also carved wood. Today, the men have been carving the upeti and have become the main artist of siapo ʻelei designs. However, they still base their designs on the traditional symbols. One upeti carving can yield many different imprints as dye can be applied to certain areas only to create an interesting design using the positive and negative space (Pacific Tapa, p. 16, 1997).

samoan-siapo-lau-laau

Siapo Mamanu is the freehand method of design and is creatively applied by hand using a dried pandanus brush, called a paogo. The design is created by the artist using black dye to sketch the design, and then the artist may choose to use a veriety of color to finish the piece (siapo.com)

These two methods of desing can also be combined to create unique artwork that is reinvented with each piece of uʻa. Siapo is one of the oldest art forms and symbols of Samoan culture. Used for clothing, burial shrouds, bed covers, ceremonial garments, and much more… (siapo.com)

Samoan Tapa is Siapo

Siapo is the common name used for bark cloth in Samoa. The siapo is the paper mulberry tree bark for the material called uʻa. The bark is prepared in the common way of removing and preparing the bast. The tools used to beat out the uʻa is the anvil called a tutua, which is about 3 feet long for a single person to work, or six feet long for two or three people to work together. The beater used is called an is called an iʻe. The iʻe has two smooth sides and two grooved sides. After the uʻa is beaten into a sheet, it is dried in the sun and made ready for design applications.

Samoan Siapo

Samoan Siapo

Would you like to learn more about this topic? Check out this amazing website full of great info: siapo.com

Tapa Designs from the Kupesi of Tonga

Kupesi design tablets in Tonga are constructed by sewing coconut midribs onto a pandanus or coconut leaf sheath. This style of kupesi, which is still used today, is believed to have spread from Tonga to Fiji and Samoa, and beyond to other islands (tongabarkcloth.com).

The designs on Tongan ngatu are known for commemorating historical events in their motifs. Such memorable things in the life of Tongans as the introduction of bicycles, electric poles, and other historical events have been recorded in ngatu designs to document these occasions. Abstract and natural motifs are used. Ngatu ʻuli is black and used only for funerals, whereas ngatu tahina was lighter and used commonly.

Although ngatu is not worn as clothing anymore it is still highly valued. It continues to be a very important traditional koloa (treasure of women) and given as a gift item at ceremonies such as births, weddings, and funerals. It is given in amounts that make a statement about rank and social standing. This is an important facet of Tongan culture and has been recognized by scholars as part of the Tongan cultural system of gift exchange in a ceremonial economy.

Tongan Kupesi

Tongan Kupesi

Kupesi Print with Hand-painting Overlay

Kupesi Print with Hand-painting Overlay

Tongan Tapa: Ngatu

Ngatu is the name for tapa in the kingdom of Tonga. As is common among other bark cloth throughout Oceania, it is made from the paper mulberry or hiapo, the Hibiscus, or the breadfruit tree.

Ngatu is still manufactured in Tonga today in large amounts. Women work together in groups to pound out large sheets using a long log as the anvil on which to beat the fibers of the tree bark. This wooden anvil is called a tutua. The beater used to pound the inner bark fiber is called an ʻike. Small pieces, called fetaʻaki, are joined together to make the full sized ngatu. Joining the sheets is done simultaneously while applying the design. Kupesi are placed underneath the fetaʻaki. Kupesi are the design tablets that transfer a design motif to the ngatu. First the kupesi is rubbed with brown pigment from bark of the koka tree (Bischofia javanica). Arrowroot is used as paste to attach the fetaʻaki together. The next stage in the process after the first rubbing with brown dye is to rub the entire surface again putting a new layer of dye. This makes the patterned design of the kupesi emerge like rubbing on a coin. The rubbed layer can also be over-painted with darker colors for more definition in the design.

Eventually, the cloth will become stiff and water repellant from the process of joining, pasting, and rubbing, which continues until the piece becomes as large as needed. Usually ngatu can be made 50 to 100 feet long or even longer. Some pieces have been known to be one mile long (!) and are carried and presented by long lines of women who support it on either side.

Tongan tapa is ngatu

Tongan tapa is ngatu

Website Blog: Museum of New Zealand – Te Papa Tongarewa

Paperskin-large tapa @ Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand

Paperskin-large tapa @ Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand

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