university of hawaii virtual museum

Tau Rima Tahiti: Crafting Performance

T
he UH Manoa Library presented two exhibits, Tau Rima Tahiti and 'Ite 'Upa'upa, curated by ethnomusicology candidate Scott Bartlett, in the Hamilton Library Bridge and Phase II Galleries from March 2 to April 28, 2009.

Tau Rima Tahiti: Crafting Performance showcases the craft artists and the material artifacts of 'Ori Tahiti. Examples of locally made costumes and instruments show how artists preserve Tahitian traditions through craftsmanship, innovation, creative use of resources, and the transmission of knowledge.

Builders and makers construct these objects for the stage production, but their craftsmanship

is a performance in and of itself. The materials of Tau Rima Tahiti celebrate these craftspeople and their central role in preserving Tahitian culture.

‘Ite ‘Upa‘upa features the resources on Tahitian performance are held in the Pacific Collection of Hamilton Library. Developed collaboratively with Librarian Stuart Dawrs, the exhibit highlights photos and books on Tahitian dance and culture.

HOME | Dance and Costume |Instruments and Drumming | Craft Processes

Tau Rima Tahiti: Crafting Performance
Tau Rima is a colloquial Tahitian term that describes skilled work or steady hands. It refers especially to craftsmanship, competition, and performance. Tau rima and great creativity go into every costume, carving, and musical instrument that is a part of 'Ori Tahiti, Tahitian dance.

'Ori Tahiti is a production in the grandest sense, combining many elements in its spectacle. Dance, music, and costume all work together to convey a common theme, so each production depends on the design and crafting of new materials. Ra'atira, group directors, along with their dancers and musicians, make new costumes appropriate to the performance theme. Skilled carvers and builders make traditional Tahitian instruments, as well as new instruments which add variety and show musical creativity.

Tahitian performance groups in Hawai'i are displaced from the original source of their art and raw materials. They relay the myths and tell of a land that is far away. In transplanting Tahitian culture, craftspeople in Hawai'i show great resourcefulness and skill. By using local resources, cultivating relationships, and employing great creativity, they display a design sense and resulting product that is remarkably and undeniably Tahitian.

Just as songs and dance transmit cultural knowledge, carvers and craftspeople perpetuate Tahitian creativity and artistry through their handiwork. Builders and makers construct these objects specifically for the stage production, but their craftsmanship is a performance in and of itself. The materials of Tau Rima Tahiti celebrate these craftspeople and their central role in preserving Tahitian culture in Hawai'i.

Tahitian Craftsmanship and Performance Video
'Ia Ora O Tahiti Nui,
ta'iri to'ere
(9 min.)
Pola Teriipaia,
Manutahi Tahiti ra‘atira
(9 min.)
Etua Tahauri,
to‘ere maker
(12 min.)
* Pele Presentation,
Manutahi Tahiti
(11 min.)
* With permission of Playback Memories.

Additional Resources
To learn about research materials at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa libraries, visit 'Ite 'Upa'upa: Resources in Tahitian Performance. This exhibit is located in the Hamilton Library Phase II Gallery, adjacent to the main elevators on the first floor, and features research treasures from the Pacific Collection and the Wong Audiovisual Center.

Please visit ArtMania, in the UHM Art Department on Sunday, April 5, for Tahitian performance and craft demonstrations. Witness music and dance exhibitions, tō'ereand skin drum construction demonstrations, and try your own hand at Tahitian crafts.

Upcoming Tahitian events on O'ahu include:
Heiva i Honolulu: Waikiki Shell, March 12-14
Manutahi Solo Competition: Waimea Valley, April 18-19

Many of the items shown in Tau Rima Tahiti are available for purchase. Please contact these local craftspeople if you are interested in their work. You can also visit many of these and other craftspeople at the festivals above.
KBS Instruments, skin drums & vivo
Mafatu Krainer (Tahitian Instruments), to'ere, drums, carving
Tahia Parker, jewelry & costumes
Denise Ramento, jewelry & clothing
Etua Tahauri (Polynesian Cultural Supply), tō'ere, Hawaiian pahu
Tyrone Temanaha, Jr., tō'ere, carving, tattoo design
Gerard Tepehu, tō'ere, skin drums, carving

Acknowledgements
All of the exhibit items in Tau Rima Tahiti have been very generously loaned by ra'atira and instrument makers on O'ahu. I am deeply grateful to the numerous specialists who shared their time and knowledge with me, provided Tahitian language assistance, and for generously loaning their treasures for this exhibition:

Maeva Anderson, ra'atira (Oriata)
KBS Instruments
Mafatu Krainer, drum maker and carver
Tahia Parker, ra'atira (Marania Haoragi)
Rose Perreira (Tahiti Nui International)
Christopher Ramento, ra'atira (Here Tama Nui)
Denise Ramento, ra'atira (Here Tama Nui)
Etua Tahauri, tō'ere maker and carver
Cathy and Charlie Temanaha, ra'atira (Te Vai Ura Nui)
Tyrone Temanaha, Jr., tō'ere maker and carver
Catherine Teriipaia, (Polynesian Cultural Center)
Pola Teriipaia, ra'atira (Manutahi Tahiti)
Robyn Manu Williams, ra'atira (Ote'a Kia Mana)
Mauruuru roa!

For their guidance, advice, and assistance in the development and installation of this project:

Stuart Dawrs, Hamilton Library Pacific Collection
Karen Kosasa, American Studies/Museum Studies
David Landry, Art Department shop manager
Christopher Formanek, Technical assistance
Teri Skillman, Library Communications and Events Coordinator
Bronwyn Solyom, Jean Charlot Collection Curator
Tyrone Temanaha, Jr., Exhibition artwork
Michael Thomas, UH Virtual Museum Project Manager
Ricardo D. Trimillos, Ethnomusicology Program
Jack Ward, Tahitian Language
UHM Hamilton Library Administration
Ethnomusicology Program student volunteers
Art 360 student volunteers

I am especially grateful for the support of the John Young Foundation.

Feedback
Thank you for visiting Tau Rima Tahiti: Crafting Performance. This exhibit is one component of a masters thesis project in ethnomusicology. Your feedback on the exhibit would be extremely appreciated!

Please take a moment to complete an exhibit feedback survey. If you identify as Tahitian or participate in Tahitian performance or craftsmanship, I would enjoy a further conversation; please include confidential contact information.

Mauruuru!

Scott Bartlett, exhibit curator
Master of Arts candidate, Ethnomusicology
Museum Studies Certificate candidate, American Studies Department