prmlogo2Cook-Voyage Collections
at the Pitt Rivers Museum


PRM0001345825179Barkcloth, mahute, from Rapa Nui (Easter Island); part of the Forster collection (Forster 128; 1886.1.1250)

Piece of barkcloth made up of numerous small pieces of cloth that have been quilted together. The pieces do not appear to have been felted together, except in small areas, which may be attributable to wear. The small pieces of cloth were laid one on top of another to form the thicker whole cloth. The piece uses 6 panels to make up the width of the cloth and 4 for the length of the object. The widths of the bark cloth on the front of the piece range from 115 mm to 300 mm, not including overlap. It appears that an approximate 20 mm overlap is seen where pieces have been layered to form the full cloth, though this can only be observed at the very top and bottom the piece where all layers are visible. The lengths of the cloth very greatly and thus were not recorded. The thicknesses range throughout the piece, from 3 to 6 layers, depending on the area and overlap. The quilting lines are uneven though most are between 25 and 30 mm apart; there are 46 lines og quilting in the entire piece, with are an average of 3 stitches per cm. The quilting thread is an S twist 2-Z plied thread with a tight smooth twist. The ends of the quilting threads were not trimmed and thus remain long. A back stitch was made approximately 20 mm in length to keep the threads in place. Some of these have come loose, leaving the quilting threads free to move. The placement of the quilting lines on the front of the object appear to have been to catch as many of the edges of the individual pieces of cloth as possible. In some areas the quilting thread was used to stitch down edges that were not caught by the quilting lines forming a seamed area. Decoration has been added at the top and bottom of the object. These wider plant fibres have been stitched through all layers of the cloth leaving long floats on the front of the fabric and short stitches, approximately 4 mm in length on the back. There are three lines of this decorative stitching at one end, and another two at the other end of the barkcloth. In one area, the thicker fibre has been used to stitch a loose edge of the bark cloth that was missed by the quilting lines. Along the sides of the piece some areas of the cloth have been turned over and wrapped around the edge of the piece enclosing the layers in bark cloth. There are holes spaced throughout the object, some of which may be old stitch holes for further rush decoration. However, there appears to be no pattern to these holes and the nature of the material means that the holes may be a by-product of the maunfacturing process


  PRM000122636Detail of decorative stitching
PRM000095258Ashmolean labels
PRM0001304535179Detail of paper mulberry fibres used in stitching
PRM0001304585179Paper mulberry bark fibre used in decorative stitching
PRM0001304595179Paper mulberry fibre used in quilting stitches
PRM0001337105179Electron microscope image of barkcloth
PRM0001337125179Electron microscope image of fine stitching fibre
PRM0001337135179Electron microscope image of wide stitching fibre