Sample of tapa cloth | State Library of New South Wales

Sample of tapa cloth

Sample of tapa cloth, 1787
From A catalogue of the different specimens of cloth collected in the three voyages of Captain Cook, to the southern hemisphere... bound volume printed for Alexander Shaw
DSM C526, p. 20

The islands of the Pacific exerted a fascination on the men who sailed around the world with Captain James Cook. Pieces of tapa, or bark cloth, were among the many souvenirs they took back to England. The fabric is made by beating the inner bark of the paper mulberry tree. In 1787 Alexander Shaw, an army agent in London, collected many examples of this cloth and assembled a Catalogue of specimens which now provides important evidence of the styles and patterns of cloth made in 18th century Tahiti, Hawaii and Tonga.

Display period: July 2007 – June 2008