This uniquely Polynesian art plays an important role in cultural ceremonies and every day life. Tapa is considered one of the greatest gifts to give or receive on occasions such as wedding, funerals, birthdays or births. The high monetary monetary value of the Tapa Cloth and can be used for bartering goods or as loan collateral.
Soft white Tapa is used to wrap newborns babies. Painted Tapa is used to dress up a bride on her wedding day, or is laid out for royalty to walk on, or simply as a blanket on cool nights.
Tapa is made from the bark of the mulberry tree. This is then pummeled by hand with a wooded mallet until the bark is paper-thin. Each piece is then glued together using paste made from the tapioca root. The Tapa Cloth is painted with natural dye made from various trees producing different hues. Each island has it's distinctive dyes and designs creating different styles of Tapa.