Barkcloth, or masi, is the traditional art form of the women of Vatulele Island. Its manufacture continues to flourish, even increase, while many other arts are declining, despite the fact that most of its functional roles have been usurped by Western cloth and paper. This book explores this apparent paradox and concludes that the reasons lie in the ability of its identity functions to buffer the effects of social stress. This is so for not only Vatuleleans but all Fijians. It is argued that the resultant strong indigenous demand has caused the efflorescence in barkcloth manufacture and use, contrary to the common assumption that the tourism market is the "savior" of art. This cultural vigor, however, has social costs that are explored here and weighed against its benefits. Rod Ewins locates a very local activity in both national and global contexts, historically, sociologically, and theoretically.
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