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Skirt or apron tapu

Skirt or apron tapu

Place: Tonga
Category: Ritual

dyed musa leaves, Tonga, l. 140 cm, w. 190 cm, Inv. Oz 152

Humphrey No. 46: ‘A sort of Cloak or ornamental mantle, made of long stripes of the plantain leaf, dyed red, and affixed to a matted Collar, from ditto [Friendly Isles].’

The apron consists of red-brown dyed musa leaves, knotted to a plaited band about 5 cm wide and 190 cm long. The purpose of the apron is unclear. According to Kaeppler however (cf. Kaeppler 1978a: 216), it may have been a grave decoration, similar decorations still being used in Tonga today with the designation ‘tapu.’ Inken Köhler, Ulrike Rehr, Gundolf Krüger


Kaeppler, Adrienne L, ‘Artificial Curiosities’ Being An Exposition of Native Manufactures Collected on the Three Pacific Voyages of Captain James Cook RN [Exhibition catalogue], Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu, 1978a.

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