Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tapa Cloth

We have been busy learning about traditional tapa cloth from the pacific. We discovered that the process is a dying art now because it is a very complicated process to make the cloth and also because many of the plants used for making and decorating the cloth are becoming scarce!

The steps for making traditional tapa are:
1. Paper mulberry trees are harvested by men when they are about 2 years old.
2. Women strip the bark and separate the dark outer layer from the white inner layer.
3. The white bark is soaked in water.
4. The women then pound the strips of bark with a wooden beater until they are thin - this is a very noisy part of the process as the thudding echoes throughout the villages.
5. Each sheet is then glued on top of the other using arrowroot sap.
6. The sheets are then beaten again until they are thin and a large, flat sheet has been created.
7. The cloth is then decorated with traditional patterns that are based on the local environment using dyes that are made from clay, nuts and bark off trees.

We are making tapa cloths our own way in Room 12 at the moment - as it is a bit tricky to do it the traditional way!!

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