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'Hiapo' is the word for barkcloth or tapa in the language of Niue. The aim of this book is to reveal the power of a remarkable art, that until now has been obscure to all but a few specialists - the painted hiapo of Niue island in central Polynesia. Most known pieces of hiapo were produced in the mid to late nineteenth century and are now dispersed, largely in museum collections, all over the world. The authors have worked on this project for a decade, visiting museums, collecting information, travelling to Niue, talking to old people, trying to find out how these paintings were done and who made them. One of the authors, John Pule, has drawn on the art of hiapo for his own paintings and etchings, some of which are included in the book. In the text, the authors describe their separate encounters with hiapo and offer two perspectives on the art form. Hiapo paintings range from abstract patterns to detailed renderings of plants (from taro to missionaries' sunflowers), people and ships. The use of colour is restricted and the format is often huge, as many cloths were used as bed coverings or tablecloths. Collectively, the paintings offer a window on life in Niue in the second half of the nineteenth century, a time when missionaries, traders and locals were intermingling with increasing frequency. The illustrations in the book, most of which are in full colour, bring together hiapo from all over the world. This book is the first study of this art form and is a major publication.
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Table of Contents

Introduction; Desire Lives in Hiapo; 'Savage Island' Hiapo; The Plates; Six Etchings; Index.

About the Author

Nicholas Thomas is Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge. He has since written extensively on art, empire and related themes, and curated exhibitions in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, many in collaboration with contemporary artists. His early book, Entangled Objects (1991), influentially contributed to a revival of material culture studies. He went on to publish, among other works, Oceanic Art (1995) in the Thames and Hudson World of Art series and Islanders: The Pacific in the Age of Empire (2010), which was awarded the Wolfson History Prize.

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