People

Note on Makers

We have very little information on the women who made the barkcloth now in historical collections. Museum collections and written historical descriptions of barkcloth only exist for the last 250 years, and local oral histories rarely contain information about the artists. In general, as a female art, barkcloth making has also suffered from male bias in Western written accounts. The artistic authorship of a barkcloth is also complex. Although a single woman might make smaller pieces, most historical cloths were collectively produced by all the women and older girls in a household or village. Early European travellers were ignorant of these complexities when they acquired barkcloths, and almost never enquired about the identity and location of their makers.