Objects | Society


Tapa cloth from Tahiti, 1769-79

Captain Cook Birthplace Museum, Tees Valley

Learning and Discovery

1600 – 1799

Here is an early artefact from Captain Cook’s Pacific voyages, which are some of the earliest pioneering European voyages undertaken.

Hundreds of objects were collected through trade or by gift and brought back to Britain from Cook’s voyages, including large amounts of garments and cloth samples made from highly valued tapa or barkcloth, fabricated from the soaked and beaten fibres of the paper mulberry tree.

These two samples, probably from Cook’s personal collection, were inherited by his widow, Elizabeth Cook. She dispersed them to family and friends, including people in the North East, either during her lifetime or after her own death in the mid-1830s. They are historically associated with a drawstring bag said to have been made from a piece of the embroidered fabric of Elizabeth Cook’s wedding dress of 1762.

By Tahitians and collected by Captain James Cook, about 1769-79

In the collection of the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum, Middlesbrough Museums, Middlesbrough Council

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