Technique 18

linear beater marking


Eastern Polynesian beater marking imparted a linear ‘grain’ to the finished cloth surface. It was wholly concerned with the visual aesthetics and suppleness of the fabric, and not a final remnant of the cloth’s spreading and homogenisation. In cloths where this final phase of beating has been omitted, or incompletely applied, you will see a mixture of two or more beater mark grades (i.e. grooving densities from different faces of the beater), applied in patches and at various orientations, where the artist has passed over the cloth striking selectively in different areas to thin out any thicker areas of bast remaining from the fusing of sheets or natural irregularities. These are similar to the chisel-marks of a sculptor or the fingerprints of a potter. Carefully drawing the cloth across the anvil in sections to maintain a good line, the final selected beater mark obliterates all other marks and imparts uniformity.


  • Hiroa, T.R. (Buck, P.H.) (1957:169-179). Arts and crafts of Hawaii. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press
  • Kooijman, S. (1972). Tapa in Polynesia. Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin 234. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press.



Entry created on 28 August 2020