A fine collection of kapa specimens. [Sandwich Islands, 18th and 19th centuries]
116 kapa specimens (ranging in size from 2 x 2 in. to 10 3/4 x 8 1/4 in.; 52 x 52 mm to 73 x 210 mm). Smaller specimens matted, all speciemns in acetate sleeves, in a loose-leaf album; fine condition, with natural flaws. Black buckram folding-case.
An impressive collection of early kapa or Hawai'ian bark cloth. Kapa is made from wauke, the paper mulberry plant, by a time-consuming, labor-intensive method. It had many functions in everyday life in early Hawai'i, but was replaced in modern Hawai'i by durable, easily manufactured fabrics. Wooden and stone mallets were used to beat the fiber and give it a distinctive watermarked design. Bamboo stamps were carved to give the cloth embossed patterns.
After several stages of beating, stretching and shaping, the kapa cloth was dyed in a rich assortment of colors. Before the arrival of Captain Cook in 1778, kapa was decorated with rudimentary brushed-on designs. After Hawai'i's contact with the outside world, kapa designs evolved into more intricate and regular geometric patterns.
The present collection is a fine sampling of early and evolving kapa made both before and after the arrival of Cook.
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