Tapa Cloth is worn throughout the South Pacific -- In Tonga, Tapa is also known as Ngatu -- In Samoa, the same cloth is called Siapo and in Hawaii it is known as kapa. It is also found in the Oro (Northern) and Milne Bay provinces of Papua New Guinea.
Tapa Cloth Skirt
Tapa Cloth is usually made from the the bark of the paper mulberry or breadfruit tree. The bark is stripped from young saplings, and the white inner layers are peeled off for the tapa. These narrow strips are soaked in water until softened; then they are pounded with mallets, which spreads the bark into increasingly wider strips until they are about 20 - 25 cms wide. The edges are then overlapped and glued with manioc root juice, breadfruit, or arrowroot starch to make wide sheets.
Many people in Papua New Guinea will decorate a wall using Tapa Cloth but it is primarily used on festive occassions such as traditional dancing and other cultural events. More Tapa Photos