Polynesian Christmas: Tapa Patterns


Tapa
(kapa in some regions) is the bark cloth commonly found in the Pacific islands. Polynesians decorated the tapa with geometric and repeated patterns. While cotton and other textiles have replaced tapa for apparel, Polynesians do still wear tapa for special occasions, such as weddings. They do continue to use tapa cloth as floor coverings, blankets, and room dividers.

While the tapa isn’t in everyday use anymore, the patterns endure. And the colours have expanded beyond the traditional blacks and browns.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is TapaTowel-767x1024.jpg

See for example this tea towel I picked up at the gift shop of Iolani Palace. Neither tapa cloth, nor black and brown, nor apparel, but more definitely inspired by the ancient traditions.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is TapaTowel2-787x1024.jpg

On my tea towel you can see the two repeated patterns. In red is the pineapple pattern and in green the ulu, or breadfruit.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is TapaTowel3-550x1024.jpg

As much as I love to see pure tradition carry on, I also love to see how people and cultures evolve, keeping what is important and modifying it for current needs. It gives me hope that we don’t have to sacrifice what makes us special on the altar of modernity.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Polynesian-Christmas-1024x630.jpg

This post is part of our month-long exploration into Polynesian Christmas traditions and inspirations. See the whole collection of activities and discoveries here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s