Fijian Masi Cloth
Barkcloth from Fiji
Masi is a cloth made from the bark of the Mulberry Tree (Broussentia papyrifera). Making masi is a traditional craft throughout the Pacific Islands. Women were
usually responsible for the production of masi. First the bark of the paper mulberry tree was peeled, and the inner bark stripped away. This was steeped in water, cleaned with shell scrapers, and
then rolled up for storage. Before being beaten into cloth, the rolls were soaked in water, after which they were beaten using a series of ike, or mallets. The grooved surfaces of the mallets were
first used to spread the bark and the plain faces used to smooth and finish it. Two or more women could be found sitting along the lenght of the dutua, or wooden anvil used for beating the masi.
Masi has always been an intergral part of life in Fiji. Its manufacture is still a regular part of village life, and its uses are many and varied.