The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is an open brutalist structure that sits above a half-moon bay on Hawaii’s Kohala cost. What sets this hotel apart from any other is its 1,600-piece collection of Indian, Asian and Oceanic art that Laurance S. Rockefeller collected in the early 1960s to bridge Eastern and Western cultures. At the time, Hawaiian arts and crafts were not highly prized or valued, especially the art of Hawaiian quilt-making, brought by missionaries to instill the Christian ways among native tribes. Of all the textiles exhibited, the tapa and kapa—barkcloth—collection is the most varied in provenance, patterns and texture.
Adrienne Kaeppler, Curator of the Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, described barkcloth for a Bonhams auction catalogue in April 2015:
“Tapa, made from the inner bark of certain trees, was widespread in Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, South America, and Africa. In the Pacific, some of the finest barkcloth was made by beating the inner bark of the paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera), cultivated specifically for the purpose, and carried with Pacific Islanders as they migrated or moved from island to island. Other plants include breadfruit (Artocarpus), banyan (Ficus), and in Hawai`i an endemic nettle (called māmaki in Hawaiian, and thought to be a variety of Pipturus). In the Pacific, the uses of barkcloth reached high points in Melanesia and Polynesia (in contrast, Micronesians primarily used loom-woven textiles).
"In Polynesia [and Melanesia] barkcloth is considered a “valuable” and categorized with distinctive terms (such as iyau, koloa, and tōga in Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa) to separate them from food and other products usually associated with men. The fabrication of barkcloth was usually women's work, but the resulting product was often sacred to men, women, and the gods. In the Cook Islands, for example, images of gods and ancestors were wrapped with cloth and fiber attachments.”
In Hawai'i a tapa is called a kapa, because there is no "T" in the Hawaiian alphabet. Breadfruit is a popular image in Hawaiian quilt-making.