Watermark Kapa | Basic Tee

Sale price Price $44.00 Regular price

100% cotton | Designed in Hawaiʻi nei | Made in the USA

Ka Nao Hoʻōki - Ke hoʻōla hou ʻia kekahi hana Hawaiʻi, ʻo ka pahuhopu nui, e hoʻōla pū ʻia mai kona mau huaʻōlelo kūpono. ʻAʻole naʻe ia he niau palanehe wale nō me ka maʻalahi loa. I kekahi manawa, he loaʻa liʻiliʻi mai nā huaʻōlelo i loko o ke au ʻana o ka manawa. Pēia nō paha ka huaʻōlelo no ia mea he “watermark.” Ke waiho nei nō kekahi mau inoa lau ponoʻī (maka ʻupena, iwi puhi, a pēlā aku), ʻaʻohe naʻe huaʻōlelo hoʻokahi i maopopo no ia huina lau. I nānā aku ka hana i ke kumu, ua loaʻa kā kekahi mea kūpono paha: ʻo ka nao hoʻōki. E kaulona aku i kā Kamakau no ka āio (grooves) a me ka nao (ridges or raised areas) o ka iʻe kuku: “...inā he iʻe kuku pepehi, he iʻe kuku nunui ia o ka nao, a ʻo ka iʻe kuku hoʻopaʻi o ke kapa, he ʻuʻuku iho ka nao, a ʻo ka iʻe kuku hoʻōki, a hoʻomaikaʻi loa i ke kapa he makaliʻi loa ia, he kahuahāʻao (uahāʻao), he ʻolē, he mole, he uananahuki a me nā nao hoʻōki he lehulehu a ka poʻe loea kuku...” ʻO ia mau nao hōʻike he lehulehu i ʻōlelo ʻia aʻela, na ke kahuna hole iʻe kuku ia o ka wā ma mua. Ke waiho nei ma nā iʻe kuku he 650 o ka Hale Hōʻikeʻike o Bīhopa a he kupanaha maoli nō ke nānā aku. Ma hope o ka hiki ʻana mai o ka haole me kona lole kīnohinohi, māhuahua aʻela nā lau like ʻole o ka nao hoʻōki. ʻO ka uahāʻao naʻe paha kekahi nao hoʻōki kahiko i laha i ka wā ma mua: “...ke kīhei uahāʻao i kuku ʻia e ko Hawaiʻi nei, a ua kapa ʻia e ka poʻe kahiko a hiki iho nei i kēia hanauna, ua ʻōlelo mau ʻia ia kapa he uahāʻao. ʻAʻole nō paha i nalowale kekahi o ia kapa i waena o kēia lāhui e noho nei i kēia wā ma nā ʻāina kuaʻāina.” (Kepakaʻiliʻula, 1865)

It’s hard to believe that cloth made from the inner bark of a small tree can range from lace and gossamer to corduroy and canvas, but Hawaiian kapa truly runs the gamut of types and textures. The finer, more lightweight varieties of kapa bear the dazzling and sophisticated feature unique to Hawaiian bark cloth: the watermark. These are textural patterns seen only when the cloth is held up to the light. They are carved into the iʻe kuku (four-sided beater) and beat into the kapa in its final stage of manufacture. The wauke fibers must be retted (broken down through a process akin to fermentation) in order to be soft and yielding enough to receive and hold these delicate markings. Wauke varieties such as poʻaʻaha and mālolo are best for watermarking, as the thick, coarse fibers of wauke nui do not ret well. Roughly a dozen or so geometric motifs have been used in a huge range of combinations by Hawaiian carvers to produce a fascinating array of watermark patterns, best seen on the roughly 650 iʻe kuku held at the Bishop Museum. Today, contemporary carvers remix old themes and create new ones. Watermark patterns can have personal significance to a kapa maker who may use them with a specific intention in mind. Iʻe kuku with multiple patterns, like the one that inspired this design, are rare and represent a high point in the evolution of this incredible art form. For this design we chose to layer the traditional patterns known as pūʻili hāluʻa, hāluʻa pūpū, and iwi puhi.