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Fashion and Fibres: Island Dress in Polynesia

2015 Exhibition - What did Polynesians wear?

Local materials such as bark, leaves and plant fibres were used to create and decorate fabrics of surprising delicacy and beauty. Much of this 'exotic' fabric was given to Cook and the voyagers as gifts.

On their return, Mrs. Cook started to embroider a waistcoat for her husband on Polynesian tapa or Barkcloth.

The exhibition displayed a variety of these fabrics, together with a meticulous reconstruction of Mrs. Cook’s finely embroidered waistcoat.

European styles of clothing were introduced to Polynesia and some were made from local fabrics, resulting in unique and charming creations.

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