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Title: The forgotten women of the 'Bounty' and their material heritage
Contributor(s): Reynolds-Barff, Pauline (author)
Publication Date: 2012
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Abstract: Twelve Polynesian women (of Tahiti, Huahine and Tubuai) were taken from Tahiti's shores in 1789 aboard 'HMAV Bounty', to eventually found a settlement on Pitcairn Island. Whilst suffering immeasurable hardship, they went about making tapa to clothe themselves and a growing brood of children. The hut where they made tapa was a feminine domain and safe house: a place of transferring techniques to the next generation - techniques which were at that time being suppressed in Tahiti by the missionaries. Today in museums throughout the world there are beautifully made examples created by these women requiring specialist techniques some of which are only recorded in Tahitian legend today. They developed original and innovative design not seen elsewhere. Because the women were routinely ignored by captains of visiting ships who so eagerly interviewed the last remaining mutineer, the his-story of the mutiny and mutineers has been told and retold but not that of the forgotten women who were so essential to the survival of the community. The cloths illuminate their stories, holding within their fibres the very fabric of the developing culture of Pitcairn. Pitcairn is also the only confirmed island in Polynesia to use whalebone and wooden beaters, one of which is held here at Te Papa Museum. In the days leading up to their transport to Norfolk Island in 1856, tapa was still being made. It became a symbol of attachment to their mothers and their culture, and when some returned in the following years, the women took up the practice once again until it died out in the 1940s. Today a growing group of women on Pitcairn and Norfolk Islands are rebuilding this validating and empowering practice through which they can understand and know their foremothers better.
Publication Type: Conference Publication
Conference Name: Maori & Pacific Textile Symposium: Whatu Raranga a Kiwa, Understanding and Uniting Maori and Pacific Textiles, Wellington, New Zealand, 10th - 11th June, 2011
Source of Publication: Conference Proceedings. Maori & Pacific Textile Symposium: Whatu Raranga a Kiwa, Understanding and Uniting Maori and Pacific Textiles, p. 1-6
Publisher: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Place of Publication: Wellington, New Zealand
Field of Research (FOR): 210204 Museum Studies
210313 Pacific History (excl. New Zealand and Maori)
HERDC Category Description: E2 Non-Refereed Scholarly Conference Publication
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