The Modern World During and After the World Wars, C. 1914–1960

Pacific Art

What is a ngatu?

A ngatu is a royal Tongan bark cloth made by women. The Kingdom of Tonga is a group of over one hundred islands located southeast of Fiji and southwest of Samoa (Fiji and Samoa also have bark-cloth design traditions). Textiles such as the ngatu are highly prized items and are given as gifts during ceremonies and special occasions. Ngatu are hand-painted, rubbed with dye, stenciled, and perfumed. Usually deep brown, black, and beige in color, they can feature highly abstract designs, or depict naturalistic images such as fish, or other sea life.


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