Bark-cloth beater (ike) Niue

Bark-cloth beater (ike)
Bark-cloth beater (ike)

Custodian: University of Glasgow Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery

Reference: GLAHM E.439/2

The wooden beater or mallet (ike) is used in the production of a cloth in Polynesia (known as tapa) from the inner bark of the paper mulberry tree. This inner bark is dried and soaked before being beaten against a wooden anvil to thin and widen it. First the grooved side of the beater is used, then the smooth side to finish off. The wide strips of bark are then beaten together in two layers, occasionally with the assistance of a starch. The resultant pieces of cloth can measure up to 60m long – more usually around 3 – and the work may involve an entire community. The finished cloth, fetaʻaki, is then painted.

It is one of over 100 Polynesian and Melanesian objects items donated to The Hunterian Museum from the collection of Glasgow alumnus and missionary George Turner.

Maker: not known

Materials: wood

Dimensions: 345mm long