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Collection Tier:
Tier 2

Textiles ➔ Tapa Cloth, Siapo Mamanu

This siapo--or Samoan tapa cloth--was made by Mary Pritchard (born Mary Jewett, in 1905), a Samoan artist and master of mamanu, or freehand decoration. She designed her first siapo in 1929, and gradually expanded her work into a large business that gathered tapa from surrounding islands and exported them. While that business declined somewhat as new trade regulations were put in place after World War II, Pritchard continued making highly-regarded siapo and teaching others the art until her death in 1992. A specialist in mamanu, she helped redefine siapo as art in itself, as well as broke down traditional stereotypes by instructing boys as well as girls. She is especially well-known for her innovative style, which included using smaller individual designs to make a more complex whole; permanently fixing her works to boards to preserve them (beginning about 1970); and adding a clear polymer topcoat to add sheen to her siapo. Pritchard also continued the tradition of using multiple colors in a single siapo design, which was pioneered by Kolone Leoso (1900-1970), her teacher. This siapo mamanu, probably made sometime in the 1960s, is a good example of these characteristics.
Mamanu, Bark
37" h 25" w
Current Location Status:
In Storage
Gift Of Mr. And Mrs. John Clausing

Journey Through The Pacific (February 4 – June 1 2017)
Oceania is one name for the vast region of our Earth that stretches across the Pacific Ocean from Australia to Hawaii and Easter Island. Although it is dominated by water, Oceania is made up of more than 10,000 islands and is currently home to more than 40 million people. These remote islands were some of the last places on earth to be settled by humans. The migration and settlement of the Pacific Islands is one of the greatest stories of exploration and discovery in human history.

Oceania has many distinct and impressive, yet often little known, artistic traditions. Although they vary widely across the region, these traditions share a focus on the use of traditional methods and available materials which have been passed down over centuries. From sturdy wooden tools to delicate barkcloth textiles, these beautiful objects serve a variety of utilitarian and ceremonial purposes for the people who made and used them.

Mary Pritchard

Clausing, Mr. and Mrs. John
Related Place
American Samoa