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Tongan White Tapa Cloth


We have run out of stock for this item.

Simple. Classic. Traditional.

Tapa, or ngatu, as it is called in Tonga, was used as clothing by the Polynesians of long ago. It was used in traditional ceremonies and given as a gift for special occassions including weddings.

The process for making such a valuable and useful handicraft is a labor intensive process. It starts with the growing, cultivating and harvesting of the inner bark of the paper mulberry tree (hiapo). Once cleaned, the strips of inner bark are pounded with a wooden mallet (ike) on a long wooden anvil (tutua).

From there, the strips are glued together using a paste made from tapioca root or arrow root. Two or more layers of the cloth are pasted together crosswise to strengthen the material.

The blank canvas is a license for creativity for todays interior designers, artists and costume makers. Tapa does have unfinished edges and slight imperfections due to the nature of the tree branches.

Tapa cloth for purchase is approximately 1 1/2 ft. wide. Available in different lengths. Tapa is double layered. Tapa has small minor imperfections. Tapa may be cut or be made of at least 2 smaller pieces.

4 ft. length (approx). - $19

8 ft. length (approx). - $39

10 ft. length (approx). - $44