Barkcloth in Rapa Nui
Art Historical Description
Tender mahute (paper mulberry, Broussonetia papyrifera) was grown on Easter Island in natural hollows with circular dry-stone windbreaks built up around them to offer shelter from the wind. It represented the only fabric species available to the people of Rapa Nui, and seems to have been in fairly short supply. Settled from the Marquesas Islands, the production technique of Rapa Nui tapa was largely the same as the earlier stages of Marquesan manufacture, using a stone anvil and round-sectioned beater to unify the bast strips. The coarse mahute barkcloth produced was used for loincloths and capes for both men and women, and an extremely rare class of anthropomorphic images (manu uru) where a painted barkcloth skin is shaped over an armature of reeds.
- Metraux, A. (1940). Ethnology of Easter Island. Hawaiʻi: Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin, 161. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press
- Kjellgren, E. (2001). Splendid isolation: art of Easter Island. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art
initial beating – stone anvil and round beater; fusing composition; linear beater marking; immersion dyeing; hand painting
Characteristic Fabric Types
Entry created on 28 August 2020