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Specimens of Native Paper from Tongo [sic] and Fiji

Specimens of Cloth called TAPA, made by macerating & beating out the back of the paper mulberry

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Specimens of Cloth called TAPA, made by macerating & beating out the back of the paper mulberry.

Materials for the scanty clothing worn by the Fijians are readily supplied by a variety of plants, foremost among which stands the MALO, or Paper Mulberry, a middle-sized tree, with rough tri-lobed leaves, cultivated all over Fiji. The manufacture of native cloth is entirely left to women of places not inhabited by great chiefs, probably because the noise caused by the beating out of cloth is disliked by couthly ears. The rhythm of tapa-beating imparts, therefore, as tho. roughly a country air to a place in Fiji as that of threshing corn does to European villages. The MASI tree is propagated by cuttings, & grown about two or three feet apart, in plantations resembling nurseries. For the purpose of making cloth, it is not allowed to become higher than about twelve feet, & about one inch in diameter. The bark, taken off in as long strips as possible, is steeped in water, scraped with a conch shell, & then macerated. In this state it is placed on a log of wood, and beaten with a mallet (IKE), three sides of which have longitudinal grooves, & the fourth a plain surface. Two strips of TAPA are always beaten into one with the view of strengthing the fibres - an alteration increasing the width of the cloth at the expense of it's length. It is easy to join page break pieces together, the sap of the fibres being slightly glutinous; & in order to make the junction as perfect & durable as possible, a paste is prepared of arrowroot, or a glue of the viscid berries of the TOU. Pieces of native cloth, intended for mosquito curtains & screens, have been seen which were nearly 100 feet long & 30 broad. Most of the cloth worn is pure white, being bleached in the sun, as we bleach linen, but printed TAPA is also, though not so frequently seen, whilst that used for curtains is always coloured. The mode of printing the patterns is by means of raised forms of little strips of bamboo, on which the colour is placed, & the tops pressed; indeed the fundamental principle is the same as that of our printing books. the little strips of bamboo standing in the place of our types. The chief dye employed is the juice of the LAVEI, & the pattern, though rudely executed, often displays much taste.

The leaves of shrubs & ferns were also used to imprint patterns on TAPA cloth.