Hunterian Museum Collection, GLAHM E.433
Art Historical Description
A Samoan ‘upeti or rubbing board for patterning siapo barkcloth with ‘o‘a bark juice (Bischofia javanica). The base is constructed of eight transversely running and overlapping Pandanus leaf strips approximately 9cm wide, which are held together by the five longitudinally running double ribs stitched onto them, constructed from the pinnules of coconut leaflets. About half as wide as it is long, the board is divided into three-and-a-half equal panels.
The first and third panels contain triangular and chevron motifs produced with further pinnule-work, while the second and fourth panels contain fine transverse coconut-fibre cordage. It’s notable that each panel of triangular motifs is also three-and-a-half elements wide, and that the alternation of orientation in the zoning of the infilling decoration within each of these panels creates an element of intentionally broken symmetry in the composition.
Such tools of barkcloth manufacture are much harder to find in museum collections than the tapa itself. This item was donated to the Hunterian by the Reverend Dr George Turner in 1860, and corresponds to No.8 on his original donation list (“Board or block used in Samoa for printing cloth”).
73cm (length) x 35.5cm (width) x 5mm (thickness)
Associated Fabric Types
This was structurally compromised and in very unstable condition. Surface cleaned, humidified, missing areas filled with corrugated structure formed from Japanese paper, torn cordage and sprung ribs re-adhered to the surface. Stored in custom made acid free box with internal support.
Entry created on 28 August 2020