Image Credit: http://www.thatartistwoman.org/2010/11/paper-tapas-from-south-pacific.html
In today’s world handmade paper is becoming immensely popular as they are eco-friendly, natural and beautiful too. Handmade papers originated in the year 105 A.D during the Han dynasty. Tapa paper is very different from the mechanical paper due to their looks and texture. Tapa paper stands unique as it is not actual paper and is mainly used for decoration. This paper is also known as ‘kappa paper’,’ngatu paper’ and ‘siapo paper’.
Handmade Tapa Paper
These papers are manufactured in countries like South Africa, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand, Java, Hawaii, Tufi and other Polynesian countries. The people from these countries made these papers from the barks of the mulberry trees which grew outside their homes.
Tapa papers looks very different from the paper which is used for writing, printing, drawing, etc. They are usually thick in texture, dark brown in color, and come in intricate geometric designs.
Tapa paper is closely inter related to tapa cloth. However, tapa cloth is comparatively thicker in texture and is used in religious ceremonies in many Polynesian countries and a few Pacific countries. Tapa paper apart from being used for decoration, it is also used to make paper flowers and cups.
Making tapa paper is not a difficult task, especially if one has mulberry trees outside their home. All that needs to be done is to strip the inner barks of the mulberry tree and scrape them. The scraped wooden fibers should be dried, then soaked in water and then pounded till they become flexible and wide. Next, join together these strips together, just like a cloth sheet. These can then be colored with either natural or homemade dyes. These sheets can then be laid on designed wooden tablets and rubbed over with dye. Once the dye dries, the tapa paper is ready to be used.