This is a barkcloth poncho, possibly from Tahiti. It has been decorated with what are believed to be strips of the epidermis of banana leaves, and flowers made from plant material.
|1984.3.1 Detail of decoration|
|Detail of banana leaf epidermis|
The poncho is incredibly fragile and will require many hours of conservation work before it is stable enough to go on display.
This barkcloth stained with turmeric and with a feather fringe is from Tongoa, part of the Shepherd Islands, Vanuatu. It was donated to the museum by Lieut. Boyle T. Somerville, who served on HMS Dart, which carried out a survey of Vanuatu in 1890 and 1891.
|Detail of feather fringe - 1893.27.4|
The next piece has some characteristics of barkcloth from Niue, which lies in an expanse of sea between the Samoan Islands to the North, the Cook Islands to the East, and the Tonga Group to the west. Called hiapo on Niue, this barkcloth has notched edges, and an openwork pattern highlighted with orange pigment.
|1887.1.564 Detail of openwork design|
Also with striking surface decoration is 1895.22.121, a barkcloth from New Georgia in the Solomon Islands. The decoration is of a deep blue colour, and analysis shows it is a type of indigo, but it is not certain how this dye was obtained (See 'Not Quite Extinct - Melanesian Barkcloth ('tapa') from Western Solomon Islands', Rhys Richards and Kenneth Roga, Wellington, 2005)
This large yellow barkcloth is decorated with motifs made by dipping fern leaves in dye and pressing them onto the surface. Decoration of this type is characteristic of Tahiti. These striking barkcloths are not described in any of the Cook-voyage journals, but it is thought that this style of decoration came into use soon after that period.
|1886.1.1237 Detail of fern print|