Tapas, step 2

Originally, Tapas were made from tree bark solely for clothing. Since tattoos covered the bodies, the Tapa cloth was left blank – that is, without painted designs. The cloth was thin and supple for comfortable wearing.

Once cotton cloth became prevalent, Tapas were made thicker as parchment paper for paintings. Polynesian motifs were inscribed on the Tapas as part of a new art form.

With modernity, this technique has been largely lost – except for a few places in Polynesia. Thanks to the art revival in Marquesas, the village of Omoa in Fatu Hiva is now ones of the few hubs for the renewal of the Tapa tradition.

Photo: Dolina and her mom Marie Noelle show us blank tapas, before they are inscribed with paint. The white cloth comes from the mulberry tree, and the brown cloth comes from the banyan tree.