Woman Makes the Malo Makes the Man: An Exhibition of Kapa by Dalani Tanahy


In Hawai‘i, the Polynesian introduced Paper mulberry (brousonettia papyrifera) or wauke was the preferred plant for making kapa for clothes and other cloth-like items for everyday use.  Kapa was also used extensively for temple dressings, taxes and tribute paid to the ali‘i. In this exhibition, located in the Hui’s “history room,” artist Dalani Tanahy presents a stunning showcase of her recent kapa work. She plays off of the idea that “clothes makes the man,” reminding us that women made the malo that men wore. A kapa practitioner for over 20 years, Dalani is a grower of the wauke trees and dye plants needed to make and decorate kapa. She is a wood, stone, bamboo and gourd craftswoman who creates the tools she needs to pound and print kapa and dyes.  Dalani is also a researcher, reader, and doer who has learned to understand the nuances of kapa. In addition to continuing her own exploration of kapa, she is also a valued Hui Visiting Artist and kumu, helping others to learn and ensuring the working understanding and survival of kapa making.