kapa kulture

This blog is dedicated to Hawaiian kapa and matters related to Hawai'i nei…kuku kapa e!

Archive for the month “July, 2013”

Dyes & Designs in Samoan Siapo

Faʻa Samoa…In the Samoan Way…

Natural Dye
Dyes used in Samoan siapo come from nature. They are extracted or ground from nuts, tree bark, tree sap, roots, and seeds. There are five colors collected: oʻa is brown, lama is black, ago is yellow, loa is red, and soaʻa is purple. The traditional designs are symbols that reflect Samoan natural environment. There are 13 symbols used in siapo and they represent nets, coconut leaf and sennit, the trochus shell, pandanus blooms, pandanus leaves, breadfruit leaf, sandpiper bird designs, starfish, banana pod, rolled pandanus leaves, worm (this is almost extinct), centipede (which has been discontinued), and lastly, logologo (not found in modern siapo to the point that the meaning of this design has been lost). Original siapo artworks are made by combining these design elements (siapo.com).

Design Methods
There are two kinds of siapo design application methods practiced in Samoa and they are Siapo ʻElei (the rubbing method) and Siapo Mamanu (the freehand method). The Siapo ʻElei method leaves an imprint on the uʻa (bark cloth material). This is done by laying the uʻa on a design printing block that is carved into wood, called an upeti, and rubbing the uʻa with a swab that has been dipped in oʻa. Oʻa is a brown dye that is extracted from the bark of the Bishofia javanica, or blood tree. This is a pest in the Hawaiian Islands where it is known as the Bishop Tree or is called koko (blood). It is also called koko in Tonga and other island languages. The oʻa changes color over time from a pale tan to a rich, dark brown.

The next step in the process is to rub a red color over to define the design. Arrowroot plant is used as glue and is dabbed on any small holes, and then a second layer is placed on top and rubbing the oʻa is repeated, this time pressing the two layers together. Sections are joined using arrowroot and rubbing. This is usually the end of the process for large pieces known as ululima and uluselau. But for smaller pieces called vala, the design might be highlighted with more brown dye. Upeti in the older form was of both the sewn midrib variety as in Tongan kupesi, and also carved wood. Today, the men have been carving the upeti and have become the main artist of siapo ʻelei designs. However, they still base their designs on the traditional symbols. One upeti carving can yield many different imprints as dye can be applied to certain areas only to create an interesting design using the positive and negative space (Pacific Tapa, p. 16, 1997).

samoan-siapo-lau-laau

Siapo Mamanu is the freehand method of design and is creatively applied by hand using a dried pandanus brush, called a paogo. The design is created by the artist using black dye to sketch the design, and then the artist may choose to use a veriety of color to finish the piece (siapo.com)

These two methods of desing can also be combined to create unique artwork that is reinvented with each piece of uʻa. Siapo is one of the oldest art forms and symbols of Samoan culture. Used for clothing, burial shrouds, bed covers, ceremonial garments, and much more… (siapo.com)

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Samoan Tapa is Siapo

Siapo is the common name used for bark cloth in Samoa. The siapo is the paper mulberry tree bark for the material called uʻa. The bark is prepared in the common way of removing and preparing the bast. The tools used to beat out the uʻa is the anvil called a tutua, which is about 3 feet long for a single person to work, or six feet long for two or three people to work together. The beater used is called an is called an iʻe. The iʻe has two smooth sides and two grooved sides. After the uʻa is beaten into a sheet, it is dried in the sun and made ready for design applications.

Samoan Siapo

Samoan Siapo

Would you like to learn more about this topic? Check out this amazing website full of great info: siapo.com

Hawaiian Word of the Day: hānai

hānai: 1. Foster child, adopted child; foster, adopted. Keiki hānai, foster child. Lawe hānai, to adopt a child. Makua hānai, foster parent. Kāna hānai, his adopted child. 2. To raise, rear, feed, nourish, sustain; provider, caretaker (said affectionately of chiefs by members of the court). Hānai holoholona, to feed and care for domestic animals. Makamaka hānai, generous and hospitable friend. Hānai ā momona, to fatten. Hānai maila ʻoia iāia meli, he fed him the honey. 3. Body of a kōkō net carrier, and cords attached to it; fish net or trap, as for ʻoʻopu fish; kite.

akua hānai: 1. Spirits, as of a recently dead kinsman, who were fed (hānai) offerings (such as food) and sent out to destroy an enemy. 2. The kauila, nioi, and the ʻohe “poison” woods of Molokaʻi, which were kept by sorcerers in their houses, wrapped in tapa, and to which food offerings were made daily; scraps of these woods were used as poison, and poison itself was sometimes called akua hānai.

hānaiāhuhu: To make a pet of an animal; to care for well, as a pet; cherished plans, pet projects. Eia kekahi mau hānaiāhuhu a ke aupuni, here are some favorite plans of the government.

hanaina: Feeding. Eia mai ka moa i hanaina lā, here is the rooster fed in the sun; the cock fed in the sun was believed strong because of turning his head to avoid heat.

Feeding the Birds, by Joanna Dover

Feeding the Birds, by Joanna Dover

art work by Joanna Dover

Tapa Designs from the Kupesi of Tonga

Kupesi design tablets in Tonga are constructed by sewing coconut midribs onto a pandanus or coconut leaf sheath. This style of kupesi, which is still used today, is believed to have spread from Tonga to Fiji and Samoa, and beyond to other islands (tongabarkcloth.com).

The designs on Tongan ngatu are known for commemorating historical events in their motifs. Such memorable things in the life of Tongans as the introduction of bicycles, electric poles, and other historical events have been recorded in ngatu designs to document these occasions. Abstract and natural motifs are used. Ngatu ʻuli is black and used only for funerals, whereas ngatu tahina was lighter and used commonly.

Although ngatu is not worn as clothing anymore it is still highly valued. It continues to be a very important traditional koloa (treasure of women) and given as a gift item at ceremonies such as births, weddings, and funerals. It is given in amounts that make a statement about rank and social standing. This is an important facet of Tongan culture and has been recognized by scholars as part of the Tongan cultural system of gift exchange in a ceremonial economy.

Tongan Kupesi

Tongan Kupesi

Kupesi Print with Hand-painting Overlay

Kupesi Print with Hand-painting Overlay

Tongan Tapa: Ngatu

Ngatu is the name for tapa in the kingdom of Tonga. As is common among other bark cloth throughout Oceania, it is made from the paper mulberry or hiapo, the Hibiscus, or the breadfruit tree.

Ngatu is still manufactured in Tonga today in large amounts. Women work together in groups to pound out large sheets using a long log as the anvil on which to beat the fibers of the tree bark. This wooden anvil is called a tutua. The beater used to pound the inner bark fiber is called an ʻike. Small pieces, called fetaʻaki, are joined together to make the full sized ngatu. Joining the sheets is done simultaneously while applying the design. Kupesi are placed underneath the fetaʻaki. Kupesi are the design tablets that transfer a design motif to the ngatu. First the kupesi is rubbed with brown pigment from bark of the koka tree (Bischofia javanica). Arrowroot is used as paste to attach the fetaʻaki together. The next stage in the process after the first rubbing with brown dye is to rub the entire surface again putting a new layer of dye. This makes the patterned design of the kupesi emerge like rubbing on a coin. The rubbed layer can also be over-painted with darker colors for more definition in the design.

Eventually, the cloth will become stiff and water repellant from the process of joining, pasting, and rubbing, which continues until the piece becomes as large as needed. Usually ngatu can be made 50 to 100 feet long or even longer. Some pieces have been known to be one mile long (!) and are carried and presented by long lines of women who support it on either side.

Tongan tapa is ngatu

Tongan tapa is ngatu

Website Blog: Museum of New Zealand – Te Papa Tongarewa

Paperskin-large tapa @ Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand

Paperskin-large tapa @ Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand

Hawaiian Word of the Day: leʻa

leʻa: 1. Joy, pleasure, happiness, merriment; sexual gratification, orgasm; pleasing, gay, delightful, happy, merry; delighted, pleased. hoʻo.leʻa. To cause pleasure, joy; to praise, please, delight, extol; praising, eulogistic. Haʻiʻōlelo hoʻoleʻa, eulogistic speech. ʻEhā kaukani hoʻi i hoʻoleʻa iʻa Iēhowa me nā mea kani aʻu i hana ai i mea hoʻoleʻa, four thousand then praised Jehovah with the playing instruments I made as praising things. 2. Clearly, perfectly, thoroughly, successfully. kāleʻa, kūleʻa. Haʻi leʻa, to describe fully and clearly; one skilled in clear, full explanation. Holo leʻa, to progress smoothly, successfully. ʻIke leʻa, to see clearly. Maopopo leʻa, obvious, clearly evident. Moʻa leʻa, thoroughly cooked. 3. Capitalized: Leʻa: The zenith star Arcturus. Also Hōkū-leʻa, star of gladness.

shaka!

Hawaiian Word of the Day: aloha ʻāina

aloha ʻāina: Love of the land or of one’s country, patriotism; the name of a Hawaiian-language newspaper published 1893-1920; aloha ʻāina is a very old concept, to judge from the many sayings (perhaps thousands) illustrating deep love of the land.

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Hawaiian Word of the Day: ʻumeke

ʻumeke: Bowl, calabash, circular vessel, as of wood or gourd. ʻUmeke kāʻeo, a well-filled calabash [a well-filled mind]. ʻUmeke pala ʻole, calabash without a dab [empty bowl, empty mind]. hoʻo.ʻumeke, hōʻumeke. To assume the shape of a bowl; to assume the shape of fruit, to bear fruit. Fig., to have enough to eat. E pua ana ka ʻōhiʻa ʻai a hōʻumeke i ka malama o Hinaiaʻeleʻele, the mountain apple blooms and fruits form in the month of Hinaiaʻeleʻele.

ipu umeke

ʻumeke ʻai: Poi bowl. Fig., source of food, of the uplands.
ʻumeke ipu kai: Bowl, as for serving meat or salty meat.
ʻumeke kepekepe: Bowl with horizontal flat panels. Lit., wedged bowl.
ʻumeke lāʻau: Wooden bowl.
ʻumeke mānaʻai: Very small bowl, as formerly used for poi by favorite children. Lit., poi mouth-fed bowl.
ʻumeke ʻōpaka: Bowl with vertical panels with vertical edges between them.
ʻumeke palapaʻa: Thick-bottomed wooden calabash. Lit., firm-dabbed bowl, perhaps so called because dabs of poi are held firm in this type of calabash that does not upset.
ʻumeke pāwehe: A decorated gourd bowl, as made on Niʻihau.
ʻumeke pōhue: Gourd calabash.

ipu-umeke

Photo found on the Kaʻahele Hawaiʻi Website. Click below to access more information on Hawaiian ipu and more resources for Hawaiian culture and arts.

Na Ipu O Hawaiʻi

Hawaiian Word of the Day: Honi

honi: 1. To kiss; a kiss; formerly, to touch noses on the side in greeting. Hele akulu ʻo lakoba, a honi aʻela iāia, Jacob came near and kissed him. hoʻo.honi: To cause or pretend to kiss. 2. To smell, sniff, scent; a scent. hoʻo.honi. 3. To touch, as a match to a combustible.

<a href="http://immersionhawaii.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/honi/“>HONI- IMMERSION HAWAIʻI WEBSITE

HONI

HONI

HONI – MAUI ANGELS WEBSITE

Happenings @ the Kauaʻi Museum

I had the chance to do several demonstrations at the Kauaʻi Museum in April and May. It was interesting to get out in public and showcase the methods and processes of Hawaiian Kapa. My audiences were interested and asked many questions about involvement of youth, natural dyes, longevity of kapa cloth, relationships to other cultures, and more… There were some good discussions that got going. I used the opportunity to survey my audiences to understand better about the impressions kapa had on them. One surprising fact? 95% of people surveyed had no knowledge that Hawaiʻi was annexed to the United States in an illegal coup. Now that surprised me because if Hawaiʻi is indeed part of the U.S. it seems to me that U.S. History curriculum should include the story of the Hawaiian Kingdom in it’s course of study. Just saying…

Museum Poster for my Kapa Revival Project

Museum Poster for my Kapa Revival Project

The Kauaʻi Museum Website

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