The Fiji Museum - Virtual Museum


Masi is produced by beating the carefully prepared inner bark of the paper mulberry tree into sheets, strips being laid over a dutua (anvil) and beaten with an ike ni masi (beater). Smaller sheets can be beaten together to form larger sheets, and it is a feature of Fijian masi that these larger sheets are fine and evenly textured, the join being invisible. Trees are grown in carefully tended plantations, with the plantations and the knowledge of masi making techniques being passed down through the women of a family.

Masi would often be left white, but could also be smoked to produce a rich brown barkcloth called masi kuvui. If it was to be decorated it would usually be painted by hand, using leaf stencils and a range of natural dyes and paints. Other forms of decoration involved placing a relief pattern under the masi and rubbing paint over the top, or placing grooved bamboo rollers under the masi and rubbing over the top.