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Show 911

Tahiti is one of the 118 islands of French Polynesia and is the largest and most populated with the unique capital city of Papeete. Sometimes people refer to all of French Polynesia as Tahiti but this is not correct. It is located about 2700 miles south of Hawaii and 3600 miles east of Australia. French and Tahitian are the official languages. Artistic and cultural expression can be seen in woodcarving which is done primarily by men, and weaving of hats, purses, bags and mats from plant fibers of the pandanus, coconut and reed. Other art forms are the tifaifai which are hand sewn bedcovers with plant and cultural themes and lastly stone carvings for decorative and useful items. Stone carvings were thought to hold spiritual powers and only trained specialists were allowed to carve them. The last cultural craft tradition is mother of pearl for embellishments and jewelry.

911-1 Tiki Tapa Bookmark: The technique of beating bark to make a vegetable fabric is made in many island cultures. Tapa from Tahiti is one of the best known and special for its high quality. In Tahiti making tapa is a woman’s job. First men plant the breadfruit and paper mulberry tree. When the trees mature, they are cut down by the men. Then the bark is removed. Then the women start their part. They soak the bundles of bark in a stream, and then scratch away the outside bark with a shell. The inside remaining strips are placed on top of each other and then the hammering begins. They use a square beater with carved grooves that get progressively finer. The bark is hammered thinly or layered for a thicker cloth. The fabric is dried and then some are dyed red or yellow. Designs are then added.

911-2 Monkey pod drum: The Pahu or drum is made of monkey pod wood in a special Tahitian style. During the making of tapa, the beating of the drum with chants gives the rhythm to the process. The wood grain of the Tahitian drum has contrasting light to dark tones and carving is added to enhance the design.

911-3 Fish Mobile: Fishing is a mainstay of the diet and industry of Tahiti along with tourism. The waters surrounding Tahiti are home to some of the most beautiful tropical species of fish.

911-4 Tifaifai: In the tradition of hand sewn bedcovers – hands on creates a pillow using appliqué techniques with a plant theme featuring the palms of Tahiti. In the Tahitian language tifaifai means to mend or patch. The Tifaifai technique is to fold the fabric in half and then in half again. The paper pattern is then placed over the folded fabric and pinned and all four layers are cut at the same time. The design is then unfolded and stitched t the background fabric.

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