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Tapa Cloth and Textile Rugs & More

Tapa Cloth and Textile

Tapa Cloth and Textile. At Rugs and More we have a beautiful collection of Tapa Cloth and Textile.  These are very interesting because they are made from pounded bark and the making of these textiles is a dying art form.  Kapa making was nearly a loss of practice due to the globalization of islands.  Kapa production was mainly done by the Chief women of the villages and they did so in groups.  Kapa is bark-cloth, the primary textile used in Hawaii before missionaries arrived with their colorful, woven fabrics.  The Kapa is made from the inside bark of, primarily, wauke bush –  mulberry bush.  The women gathered together stripping, pounding and stamping the bark that would become cloth in which to wrap a baby, bless a marriage, or bind the bones of loved ones passed on, only good, positive, loving thoughts and comments were allowed during the process of the making of these wonderful cloths.

The pounding makes the cloth extra soft. The Hawaiian tradition also included soaking the bark for several days, practically until it fermented!  The initial beating of kapa utilizes a round wooden beater—called hohoa—over a stone anvil–kua. The second and subsequent beatings involve a square beater—called ie kuku–over a wooden anvil.

Once the pounding and drying is complete, the cloth will be dyed with noni found in Nualolo Kai. That will give it a buttery yellow color.  Hawaii’s kapa is known for its earthy colors of red, yellow, browns and blacks and geometric and asymmetrical patterns.  There are many motifs that the kapa makers use for each cloth: they each have a deeper meaning which weaves a story with hidden codes.

kapa-antique-rugs-and-more
Antique Hawaiian Kapa Rugs

Pounding kapa is pleasant, trance-like work but work that all but died out in Hawaii, relegating its only existence to an exhibit in a museum. In an interesting twist, however, it was the ancestors who resurrected the craft—or, at least, it was the need for kapa to bind the bones of ancestors that prevented kapa’s extinction as an art practiced today.

Kapa Making of Textiles
Kapa Making of Textiles

Come by Rugs and More and see our collection of Kapa Textiles and rugs.  These have add such a wonderful richness to any wall or floor.