Tapa: Situating Pacific Barkcloth in Time and Place


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Our project's official research partnerships include:

National Museums Scotland 

NMS has a large and diverse collection of Pacific barkcloth in Edinburgh, with a wealth of Polynesian material. Material collected on the 18th century voyages of James Cook is heavily supplemented with the former ethnographic collections of the University of Edinburgh, and some of the earliest and largest tapa sample books to be found anywhere in the world. Initial examinations suggest a close historical relationship between the barkcloth collections of the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and we are conducting a systematic review of the NMS collection to identify the details of that relationship. This partnership will both greatly strengthen the project’s research survey, and help to unravel some of the historical mysteries surrounding Scotland’s world cultures collections.

NMS has recently launched a collaborative research project, entitled "The Fabric of Life: Early Polynesian Barkcloth in Context", which aims to investigate the history, changing nature and present day significance of Polynesian barkcloths. Commencing in Spring 2017, the 20-month project will run until the end of 2018, with an initial focus on archival research, then progressing to the examination of contemporary practices and present day significance of the historical material.

The examination of barkcloth objects at the National Museums ScotlandThe examination of barkcloth objects at the National Museums Scotland