Learning A New Language

How You Can Revive Samoan Culture In Your Art Class

The Samoan people have long created beautiful and colorful tapestries, called Siapo, on material made from the bark of the paper mulberry tree for many years, but today, the process of this amazing art form is dying. If you are teaching your art class ancient forms of art, delving deep into the amazing culture of the Samoan people is a good idea. Your art students will wonder at the long, pain-staking process the Samoan Indians used to create the tapestries that are symbolic of their rich culture. Find out how you and your students can bring to life art work symbolic of the bark tapestries made by the Samoan people.

Starting With Modern Cloth That Is Similar To The Paper Mulberry Tree Medium

While you may not have the resources to make the tapestry medium used by the Samoans, you can substitute some modern fabrics for recreating its beauty. Keep in mind that the bark taken from the paper mulberry tree was soaked in water, scraped and continually beaten to turn it into a cloth-like medium. The tapestries made by the Samoans were traditionally used for burial shrouds or they were used as bedding covers. Muslin fabric is one of today's fabrics that would resemble the bark cloth made by the Samoan people. You can purchase rolls of muslin for your students in most department stores that carry sewing goods.

Mimicking The Dyes Used By The Samoans

The dyes used by the Samoans were made from natural sources, but the colors produced were bright and long-lasting. You can use modern dyes of the same colors to produce a similar look. When applying dyes to muslin, however, bear in mind they will run and spread out to area larger than you put on, so showing your students how to be use only small amounts at a time is crucial to create lines and perfected designs like the Samoan art. Using small paint brushes to apply dyes to muslin is the best way to have the most control over the amount of dye being applied.

Siapo designs were bold and geometrical, so drawing the complete outline of the shapes your students would like to have on their re-creation is best. Painting bold black lines first, then going back to fill them in with bright colors is the best way to produce modern Siapo art that is stunning without blotched dye issues. For the best results, allow students to paint the bold black lines in one class, then apply the colors in the next class. In this way, the black dyes will have time to dry completely before the colored dyes are applied.

Once your students have completed their Samoan Siapo tapestries, teaching them about the Samoan culture is important for keeping the culture of the culturally rich Samoans alive. Look for resources such as PICTURES OF CHANGE IN PARADISE  to show your students pictures of Samoan life so they can gain a better understanding of the culture.