Province: Oro Province, Papua New Guinea
Area: 22,735 km2
Population: 176,206 inhabitants (2011 census)
Oro Province dancers display the drama of Barkcloth design. The cloth is held over the back and flapped like the Birdwing butterfly (world’s largest) which is only found in the Oro province of Papua New Guinea.
Barkcloth is made in New Guinea for ceremonial costumes and exchanges, as well as for sale. Designs are specific to clans, although individuals may reinterpret traditional designs or create new ones. The rights to a design are often owned.
The Oro people used Tapa for clothing and other everyday items and for ceremony. Store cloth has replaced Barkcloth for daily use, but it continues to be made for ceremonies and for sale.
Tapa Makers in the Pacific range from select groups of royal Polynesian women, to village women in craft cooperatives, to a single highlands man beating out his hat.
Most Barkcloth made for sale in Papua New Guinea comes from Oro Province. These Barkcloth are made from cultivated mulberry tree bark beaten together by the Maisen people of Collingwood Bay of Oro Province. The beaters are made from stone or heavy wood. The Tapa patterns are created by staining, painting, stamping and stencilling. They are hand painted using traditional colours made from local clays, plant dyes and charcoal.