Sulieti Fieme'a Burrows


Tongan tapa cloth artwork titled Fakaneifua by Sulieti Fieme'a Burrows


Tui Emma Gillies and Sulieti Fieme’a Burrows

Materials: Tapa cloth, Kupesi, Umea and ink

Size: 80cm x 60cm

Exhibited as part of Locked In Under The Stars, sponsored by Creative New Zealand

story from the artists

Fakaneifua refers to the dessert that you would be served at a special function such as a birthday, a wedding, Father’s Day or some other special time. After dinner you have the Fakaneifua.
Fakaneifua is food, however, it can also be used metaphorically. It can be used as food for the arts, as in feeding the arts during COVID-19. We are hungry for the arts.
Sulieti’s explanation of the kupesi designs used for the background rubbing and for the main pattern:
The women of the villages made beautiful necklaces, known as Hauhau Heilala O Tupou To’a, for the prince. They were adorned with fragrant heilala flowers and a special fruit and taken to Tupou To’a, the prince’s residence. They took the kahoa heilala, or necklaces, over to give the house a beautiful fragrance. It was their gift to the prince.
The kupesi design (originally from Tongatapu) in the middle of the tapa painting is called Kalou. It represents a beautiful-smelling fruit named Fua ’I Mapa. The kupesi shows the fruit cut in half. A string is threaded through the fruit and the heilala flower used to produce the kahoa heilala necklace.
The rest of the kupesi we used to rub under the tapa cloth was made in Falevai by a family member and handed down to Tui and I to use and look after.
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