‘Tapa’ is the name of traditional Papua New Guinean clothing made from beaten bark and painted with root juice.

I spend a few days in the Oro Province with local tribes learning their traditional techniques to create colour from the natural environment. The method is unique to an area along the north coast of Papua New Guinea, where each local clan has their own identifying design.


1/3 MULBERRY TREE BARK: repeatedly beaten and dried to become cloth

2/3 BLACK NATURAL PAINT: mix crushed soil and leaves from a wild creeping plant and a drop of water in a bowl made from coconut. Stir and paint using a twig from the palm tree.

3/3 RED NATURAL PAINT: boil bark from the foghae tree and a leaf from the yafuyafu tree in water for 1 hour until the colour is released. Paint on cloth using a pandanus tree nut.