Samoan Women Celebrate Tapa Art Form

In the past I have posted blogs on tapa cloth which is the material made from bark that has been softened through a process of soaking and beating.  Throughout the Pacific Islands the bark is taken from several types of trees or shrubs, often mulberry and fig. Designs are then applied with paints and vegetable dyes of light brown, red, and black. The tapa is used for everyday needs such as room dividers, clothing, and floor mats, as well as ceremonial uses in weddings and funerals.

Saipo_(bark_cloth),_Samoa,_Tutuila,_Leone_Village,_1911,_Honolulu_Academy_of_Arts

Example of a traditional Samoan saipo

In Samoa, tapa is known as siapo, and is one of the oldest Samoan cultural art forms. For centuries siapo has been passed from generation to generation. Earlier this month Samoan women gathered to exhibit their traditional craft to celebrate National Women’s Day at the Government Building in Apia. Organized by the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, the annual event is to promote the importance of keeping the art of traditional weaving of fine mats and making siapo making alive. One woman from the ministry explains the significance of the art of tapa,

“They are the backbone of every family and society and continue to play a crucial role in development at all levels. The revival of the production of the siapo is not only to revive the cultural significance of these arts and crafts, but also to promote women’s crafting as a source of income to contribute to the economic development of Samoa.

Fouina Mata’afa is also pleased to see the revival of such art work in Samoa, as she states,

“As an old woman from my village, I am very glad that Government has revived these traditions. Seeing our old ways of living fade away was just disappointing and but having the art of weaving the ie Samoa and siapo making is a dream come true for all of us.”

Please click here to read the entire article from the samoaobserver.

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About islandculturearchivalsupport

Island Culture Archival Support (ICAS) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of records pertaining to the cultural identity of island peoples in Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia whose national and public archives, libraries, cultural centers, and business organizations are underprivileged, underfunded, and understaffed. The specific purpose for which this nonprofit corporation was formed is to support the needs of these South Pacific cultural heritage institutions by helping to preserve and make accessible records created for business, accountability or cultural purposes. The organization will endeavor to add value by providing resources or volunteers to advise, train, and work among island residents to support their efforts in building their future and preserving their collective memory through the use of modern archival techniques.
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