This week is Te Epetoma o te Reo Māori Kuki Airani – Cook Islands Māori Language week. the theme for this week is , “Tōku Reo Tōku Tango: My Language Is My Foundation”. As part of this weeks celebrations, Te Papa’s Pacific Cultures curators (and a guest writer or two) will be blogging about artefacts and events at Te Papa that are associated with the Cook islands.
Anga (decorated tapa)
This large and stunning anga (decorated tapa)was purchased for Te Papa in 2009. It is a significant part of our very small collection of 19th and early 20th-century tapa from the Cook Islands. Made in 2008, it marks a renewed 21st century interest in tapa manufacture on the island of Mangaia.
Mangaia has a long history of producing tapa cloth and decorated tiputa (ponchos). However, the art form almost completely died out in the early 20th century. This anga is the product of a revival project in the village of Oneroa. The project was undertaken by the Mangaia Historical and Cultural Society sponsored by the University of the South Pacific Cook Islands campus. The anga is huge. It is more than 5.5metres long and 2.5metres wide. The textile is made from the aoa, or aerial roots, of the Banyan tree. The decorations on the anga reference the motifs of late 19th and early 20th century barkcloth, as well as carving and tattooing. However, the present generation of artists have added some innovations in composition and colour to this anga.
Revival projects such as this help keep language and indigenous knowledge alive. The names of indigenous plants, dyes, motifs and manufacturing processes are discussed, and histories, stories and song associated with them are shared.