Electra (Bark) - History

Electra (Bark) - History


In Greek mythology, Electra the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. Also, a star.

(Bark: t. 248; 1. 100'; b. 25'; dph. 11', cpl. 21; a. 2 guns).

The first Electra was built as the bark Rolla in 1843 at Philadelphia, Pa.; purchased by the Navy 15 January 1847; renamed Electra at the time of her purchase; fitted for sea at New York Navy Yard; and commissioned 19 March 1847, Lieutenant T. W. Hunt in command.

Electra sailed from New York 4 April 1847 to join the Home Squadron in the Gulf of Mexico for service in the Mexican War. She arrived at Anton Lizardo 4 May and until 18 September 1848 served as a storeship, delivering provisions and supplies to ships of her squadron. At the close of the war she assisted in bringing home surplus supplies. She arrived at New York 7 October 1848, was decommissioned 27 October, and sold in the following November.

Electra (Bark) - History

Welcome to The Electra Guitar Page!

This page is a guide to the Electra brand guitars sold throughout the 70's and 80's by Saint Louis Music (SLM).At first copies of popular brand guitars, Electra added features that were hitherto unavailable in mass-produced guitars, and developed a series of original designs as well. The MPC models featured onboard electronic modules that added effects such as distortion and phase shift that could be controlled via the guitar's controls. The high quality and innovation of these guitars has made them beloved by players of all styles, and their economical prices remain attractive even today.

Electra, SLM, and their respective logos are trademarks of Saint Louis Music,
which has no affiliation or responsibility for this site. We thank SLM for bringing us some of the world's best guitars.

How Bark Works

Bark monitors texts, email, YouTube, and 30+ apps and social media platforms for signs of issues like cyberbullying, sexual content, online predators, depression, suicidal ideation, threats of violence, and more.

You can get email and text alerts when Bark detects potential issues so you can talk to your child and make sure everything is OK.

Bark monitors texts, email, YouTube, and 30+ apps and social media platforms for signs of issues like cyberbullying, sexual content, online predators, depression, suicidal ideation, threats of violence, and more.

You can get email and text alerts when Bark detects potential issues so you can talk to your child and make sure everything is OK.

Electra Anniversary Editions, Continued

ElectraFest 2015 was held nine days ago, at my house. As a consequence of that, and of a major re-inventory and re-arrangement I’m the process of doing with my personal guitar collection, I’m going to have a few Electra-related articles here over the next weeks. Feel free to skip them if you don’t care about Japanese guitars, Japanese history, and/or the music of the Eighties.

A little over two years ago, I wrote my first post on 1982 Electra Anniversary Edition Guitars. At the time, I owned eight of them. Today, I have a few more — but more importantly, thanks to a long conversation with “Mr. Electra,” Tom Presley, I now understand quite a bit more about how and why the Electra Anniversary guitars came to be.

If you buy a modern Epiphone or Squier guitar, that guitar will come with a very large sticker assuring you that it was INSPECTED AND SET UP IN THE USA. This sticker will be several times larger than the small one that tells you that the guitar itself was made in China. Furthermore, to judge from what I’ve seen in stores, the much-vaunted inspection and set up is more like a “wave your hand at the thing and pronounce that it’s probably pretty close to okay”. Most of the time, things are pretty close to okay. Gibson, in particular, has put an unbelievable effort into Epiphone Qingdao. A couple of years ago when Gibson felt (rightly or wrongly) that the Obama Adminstration was persecuting it for wood sourcing, I heard rumors that preparations were being made to move everything to Qingdao and to shutter at least two of the three Gibson factories in the United States.

One of the most disturbing things about the way CITES is enforced in this country is that the emphasis is placed on source wood and not wooden products Let me give you two scenarios. In Scenario One, illegally-harvested ebony is shipped from Madagascar to Gibson’s factory in Tennessee. If Gibson can’t satisfy the Federal Government’s interpretation of CITES, the wood is seized and everybody goes to court.

In Scenario Two, the same ebony is sent to China to be incorporated into Epiphone guitars. The Epiphones are then shipped to the United States. Because the Epiphones are finished products, the Federal Government takes no interest in them. This is a matter of practicality — would you want Mercedes-Benz to have to prove the sourcing of every piece of wood inside an S-Class to the government’s satisfaction — but the practical outcome of this uneven enforcement is “China-washing” of wood. I mean — do you really think that Gibson shipped CITES-legal ebony to Qingdao and shipped the questionable stuff to Nashville? Fuck no they didn’t. It was the same wood sent to both places. But China-washing prevents the Feds from getting involved…

…which means that, through Lacey Act/CITES enforcement, the government of the United States is actively punishing companies for building wooden products in the United States. Or perhaps you hadn’t noticed that some Epiphones are coming from China with rosewood fretboards that are equal to what you get in a PRS Private Stock? Hmm, wonder why that is.

Sorry for digressing. Where were we? Oh yes. Thirty-five years ago at St. Louis Music, owner of the Electra and Alvarez brands, things were very different from the way they are with the modern Chinese imports. To begin with, SLM balanced production of their guitars across three major manufacturers: Terada, Kasgua, and Matsumoku. Tom Presley has represented the involvement of the three OEMs like so:

Kasuga – Basic Copies of Strat, LP, SG, Tele – basic solid body and basses. Outlaws, LP, a few Vulcans, Semi Thin MPC, first productions of the Leslie West, early MPC instruments.

Terada – Semi Thins throughout the Electra Brand except the MPC.

Matsumoku – Late MPC instruments. Vulcan shapes, Phoenix, Leslie West final produciton and the later Westones – Note: There were NO copy instruments made at Matsumoku.

Between the years 1973 and 1981, the bulk of production was moved from Kasuga to Matsumoku as SLM continued to increase sales volume. As a consequence, most of the Electras for sale at any given time are Matsumoku-made. This, together with the outstanding repuations of Matsumoku guitars sold under the Aria Pro and Westone brands, has tended to eclipse the non-Matsumoku Electras in the minds of collectors.

It was common for guitars to arrive at SLM unfinished in both senses of the word. The company had a full-time shop with several employees who painted, assembled, and modified the guitars as they came in. At some point in 1981, the company decided to celebrate its sixtieth anniversary with special Alvarez and Electra guitars. The Alvarez guitars were made by Kazuo Yairi and can fetch good money.

I don’t know how many anniversary Alvarez-Yairis were made. However, thanks to Tom Presley’s attendance of last year’s ElectraFest we now know that there were fewer than 500 Electra Anniversary guitars made. We also know that they are all Matsumoku guitars, possibly all selected from two or three consecutive container-loads of product delivered to SLM. But here’s the interesting thing. Not all Electra Anniversary Guitars are created equal. Some, like the X155 PW double-humbucker Phoenix and X635L laminated bass, were only sold as Anniversary guitars. Others, like the X935, had Anniversary badges applied to guitars that were otherwise indistinguishable from the other X935s imported that year. The reason for this, according to Tom, is simple: they just ordered a bunch of badges and put them on “more or less at random”.

Except, that is, for the Sparklecasters, several of which you can see in the photos accompanying this article. They were standard Electra Phoenix guitars that were refinished in St. Louis with bass-boat sparkle paintjobs. How many different colors were there? Tom doesn’t remember, and if he doesn’t know, nobody knows. I am aware of at least the following sparkle colors, listed in the order of frequency : Red, Blue, Green, Champagne, Purple, Brown. What percentage of Anniversary guitars are Sparklecasters? Well, our community is aware of about sixty Anniversary guitars, which represents about thirteen percent of the 470 or so Anniversary guitars that probably made it out the door at SLM. Thirty-five of those have the bass-boat paint. So it’s safe to think that there are about 200-250 of them out there. Some percentage of those were refinished, destroyed, thrown away, or just plain lost.

I currently own eighteen of those sixty known guitars. They range in condition from new-in-box to “player-grade” to unplayable. Some are completely original. Three of them have lost their original pickups there was a time where the hot-wound MMK45 humbucker had a certain underground reputation among heavy-metal types and some people bought Electras just to strip out the pickups and abandon the rest of the guitar. One of them was re-routed for a Kahler tremolo.

Most of them, however, have survived the past thirty-four years considerably better than I have. I doubt they’ll ever be worth anything to anyone besides me, but I like the idea of being a custodian for these under-appreciated, under-documented, frequently misunderstood instruments. If you’re a guitarist yourself, you should keep your eye peeled for the Anniversary guitars. They’re brilliant to play — but more importantly, if you ever find yourself in a tight spot and need to sell it, you know a guy, don’t you?

The Surprisingly Sufficient Viking Diet

Today, the Vikings are celebrated as a proud, warlike folk, well known for their mythology and elaborate funerals. The Viking diet, however, is a mystery to most people. What did these warriors eat to survive in such a forbidding landscape? As it turns out, their food was healthy, fresh, and even a poor Viking ate much better than an English peasant during the Middle Ages. That’s not to say that the Viking diet didn’t have inadequacies, but on the whole, the Viking diet was a model of efficiency and innovation in a time when cooks had to make the most out of some very limited ingredients.

A major benefit of the Viking diet was the fact that every level of society, from kings to common sailors, ate meat every day.  Often this would have been pork, as hogs were easy to raise and quick to mature, but Vikings also ate beef, mutton and goats. Horses were also raised for food, a practice that led to later clashes with Christian leaders, as horsemeat was a forbidden ਏood under church doctrine. Vikings were avid hunters, and would capture reindeer, elk and even bear to bring back to the hearth fires. And of course, since Vikings spent so much time on the water, fish formed a major part of their diet. Herrings were abundant, and prepared in a plethora of ways: dried, salted, smoked, pickled and even preserved in whey.

While we might tend to think of Vikings standing over huge roasting pits with joints of mutton dripping onto hot coals, evidence suggests roasting and frying weren’t the favored cooking methods of the time. In fact, Vikings most often boiled their meats. Indeed, the centerpiece of the day’s meals was a boiled meat stew, called skause. As meats and vegetables were taken out of the pot, new ones were added, and the broth became concentrated over days of cooking.  Skause was eaten with bread baked with all sorts of grains, beans and even tree bark𠄻irch bark can be dried and ground and is actually very nutritious. Vikings used old bread dough to make sourdough loaves, and would also use soured milk and buttermilk to enrich their breads.

BARKCLOTH: A UNESCO World Heritage, Made In Uganda

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing worth having comes easy.” We saw this with the Bògòlanfini (Mud Cloth) from Mali and it’s ubiquitous with the barkcloth of Uganda. Locally known as Olubugo, the ancient craft comes from the Baganda people of the Buganda Kingdom. It’s mainly produced in central and southern Uganda, where the Mutuba tree grows.

Wares from the Bukomansimbi co-op of barkcloth makers and textile artisans in Kalisizo, Uganda. [Image: LESLI ROBERTSON]

According to UNESCO, the process of making barkcloth existed before weaving was invented. Making it one of the oldest textiles in history. Thus, UNESCO declared it a “Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage” in 2005 and added it to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2008. What’s there to know about this marker of specific social and cultural traditions among the Baganda community?

Ancient Origins

Though the cloth’s production was widely spread throughout the Buganda Kingdom, with workshops in almost every village, The Ngonge clan was traditionally tasked to manufacture the barkcloth. Under the hereditary chief craftsman known as Kaboggoza, they would make the cloth for the Baganda royal family, as well as, the rest of the community. The process begins in the wet season, where they harvest the inner bark of the Mutuba tree that is at least eight years old.

The process of making barkcloth existed before weaving was invented. Making it one of the oldest textiles in history.

Working under an open shed, to prevent the bark from drying too quickly, they begin the extensive and strenuous phase. It’s first heated in smouldering fire and then softened through boiling. Using various types of wooden mallets, the wet bark is beaten until it’s an even terracotta colour with a smooth, fine texture. The royals received a different finish, with chiefs and kings receiving barkcloth dyed black or white. This will then be left to dry for about three days.

Of course, the finest of these cloths were reserved for the monarch. In fact, oral history suggests that in the 12 th century, barkcloth was at first only meant for the king , known as Kabaka. It wasn’t until the 18 th century that the Kabaka declared that all his subject should grow the Mutuba trees, as well as, wear the barkcloth. Both men and women wore the cloth like a toga, with the only difference being that women wore a sash around their waists.

To further distinguish themselves, the royals would wear the cloth in different styles to reflect their status. Barkcloth was a significant part of cultural gatherings such as funerals, healing ceremonies and coronations. However, they could also be incorporated in daily practices through items such as bedding, curtains and storage contraptions.

[Image: Jan Armgardt Design]

By the 19 th Century, Arab caravan traders had introduced cotton cloth to the Kingdom. As the popularity of cotton grew, the production of the barkcloth began to decline as there were fewer uses for it. It further lost popularity during colonialist times with the missionaries’ efforts to shift cultural practices. Because the cloth features in most ritual activities, the missionaries saw it as a ‘symbol of opposition to the belief system they were attempting to inculcate’.

Members of the G7 summit in 2015, in a room lined with barkcloth. FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF GERMANY / KUGLER

Hence, they required the locals to shun the material as proof that they had rejected their traditional ways. According to a report by Global Press Journal, ‘Some locals began to associate the ancient cloth with evil spirits because it was used in traditional burial ceremonies’. Nevertheless, the cloth persisted in spiritual and cultural ceremonies due to its significance.

Futuristic Past [Image: Xenson]

It became a symbol of resistance in 1953, when the British arrested and sent King Muteesa II to England. Many wore the cloth to show their loyalty to the King, and express their anger towards the colonialists. Uganda gained its independence in 1962, but a mix of civil war, political crisis ad dictatorship saw the end of the Buganda monarchy, as well as the barkcloth. When the monarchy was restored in 1993, the coronation of the new Kabaka Mutebi II revived the interest throughout the Kingdom.

Barkcloth jacket by Gloria Wavamunno courtesy of the University of North Texas Art Gallery [Image: Matt Golden]

Does it add to deforestation?

No trees are cut in the production of the cloth. The ‘matured’ bark is harvested every five years, allowing the tree to regenerate. Although some sources suggest that the bark can be harvested after a year. Additionally, banana leaves are wrapped around the tree to ensure that it’s protected from insects and maintains adequate moisture as new bark grows.

No trees are cut in the production of barkcloth

On the contrary, the craft is impacted by deforestation. Uganda has lost close to eight million acres of its forest since 1990. Because the bark is in high demand, carvers must often seek out trees on privately owned land in rural areas. Even in the cases where they aren’t ready for harvesting, they often pay a fee to ensure that the trees are reserved for them.

Blue mood Paper beads on bark cloth by Sanaa Gateja [Image: Afriart Gallery]

Barkcloth Today

Interestingly, the same technique that was used by ancient craftsmen is still used today. Additionally, barkcloth continues to be a focal element in ceremonies, funerals and cultural gatherings. That being said, the cloth has been incorporated into modern uses such as the manufacture of everyday apparel, interior décor and even motor vehicle detail. It also has the potential for artistic such as with the work by Sanaa Gateja. The founder of Kwetu Africa Art and Development Centre, based in Kampala, is passionate about using barkcloth in mixed media collages, interior design schemes and wearable art.

[Image: Ovide Studio Bartex]

Fashion wise, designers such as Josephine Kyomuhendo have featured it in their runway collections. Under her brand, José Hendo, the Ugandan-born British fashion designer used the cloth in her Resonance collection that has showcased in Kampala, Berlin, Madrid, New York, London and Paris. She further began the ‘Bark to the Roots (B2TR)’ initiative that aims to promote the global use of barkcloth.

The Modern Take

In 1999, Ugandan-German couple – Mary Barongo-Heintz and Oliver Heintz – realised that so much more could be done with the cloth. According to as article published in the Atlas Obscura, they realised that it ‘can be dyed, rubberized, bleached, or hardened. By blending it with other materials, they could make it water repellent, fire retardant, or abrasion resistant—presenting a range of alternatives to leather or synthetic, petroleum-based materials.’ They started a company known as Barktex, which makes barkcloth by the same name through a low-energy, partly CO2-emission-free process.

[Image: Luminaires – Planlicht]

Barktex works with 50 Ugandan locals and 600 small-scale Ugandan farmers to upgrade the barkcloth. Furthermore, they opted to employ more women in the craft. Traditionally, men were the ones who made the cloth and it was taboo for women to even plant the tree. By collaborating with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Association of Uganda Professional Women in Agriculture and the Environment (AUPWAE), they have succeeded in supporting 50 women to plant barkcloth trees. Barktex barkcloth has been used in everything from the automotive sector and exhibition architecture, to household appliances, interiors, fashion and footwear.

[Image: Strähle+Hess, Imat Uve, Uta Krieger, BARK CLOTH_europe]

While the traditional cloth is still in production, artists and designers are experimenting and reinterpreting the material. No matter which route it takes, Barkcloth remains the historical embodiment and continuity of a community.


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Ayahuasca, also called caapi, yajé, or yagé, hallucinogenic drink made from the stem and bark of the tropical liana Banisteriopsis caapi and other botanical ingredients. First formulated by indigenous South Americans of the Amazon basin, ayahuasca is now used in many parts of the world. Some users experience visions and sensations, while others claim that the potion has healing powers.

Ayahuasca is made by soaking or boiling the stems of B. caapi (sometimes called ayahuasco), a tropical vine of the order Malpighiales, with the leaves of the chacruna plant (Psychotria viridis). Alternatively, the leaves of certain other plants, most notably the chagropanga plant (Diplopterys cabrerana), may be used. B. caapi is a source of harmine, an alkaloid that inhibits the breakdown in the digestive system of DMT (dimethyltryptamine), the psychoactive substance that the other plant supplies.

For uncounted centuries, plant-derived psychoactive drugs have played an important part in South American traditional religions. The English botanist Richard Spruce first encountered ayahuasca and B. caapi in 1851. As knowledge of ayahuasca’s psychotropic effects spread in the late 20th century, Peru experienced an influx of tourists seeking the drink. DMT is illegal in most countries, including the United States, where it is classed as a Schedule I controlled substance. Even so, ayahuasca cults have proliferated in the 21st century. Batches of the potion are typically prepared by a shaman or ayahuascero and ingested by devotees in groups. Participants are advised to avoid certain foods and drugs beforehand to avoid dangerous interactions. Nausea is a normal side effect.

Potential Pitfalls

If you are interested in trying an aphrodisiac, there are some potential pitfalls you should watch for and precautions you should take.

  • Talk to your doctor first. Don’t rely on aphrodisiacs to fix problems that might have a medical basis. Sexual problems can often be a sign of an underlying medical or mental health condition, so it is important to talk to your doctor about your symptoms, including ones related to sex. People are sometimes hesitant to bring up such issues to their doctor out of embarrassment, but its something important that you should mention.
  • Be cautious of potential side effects and interactions. Also, don’t assume that just because something is “natural” that it is safe, harmless, or without side effects. Even natural substances can have adverse effects or may interact with other medications or supplements that you are taking.
  • Remember that sexual desire and behavior aren’t one-dimensional. Physical factors do play an important role, but there are also important interpersonal and psychological factors at work. How you feel about yourself, your partner, and your relationship can all have an influence on how often you desire and engage in sexual activity.

If you are experiencing problems with sexual functioning, including low libido or physical issues that make sex difficult or impossible, talk to your doctor. Such problems are often treatable, or they may be a sign of an underlying medical condition that needs to be treated.

Hiapo (tapa)

Polynesia is one of the three major categories created by Westerners to refer to the islands of the South Pacific. Polynesia means literally “many islands.” Our knowledge of ancient Polynesian culture derives from ethnographic journals, missionary records, archaeology, linguistics, and oral traditions. Polynesians represent vital art-producing cultures in the present day.

Each Polynesian culture is unique, yet the peoples share some common traits. Polynesians share common origins as Austronesian speakers (Austronesian is a family of languages). The first known inhabitants of this region are called the Lapita peoples. Polynesians were distinguished by long-distance navigation skills and two-way voyages on outrigger canoes. Native social structures were typically organized around highly developed aristocracies, and beliefs in primo-geniture (priority of the first-born). At the top of the social structure were divinely sanctioned chiefs, nobility, and priests. Artists were part of a priestly class, followed in rank by warriors and commoners.

Polynesian cultures value genealogical depth, tracing one’s lineage back to the gods. Oral traditions recorded the importance of genealogical distinction, or recollections of the accomplishments of the ancestors. Cultures held firm to the belief in mana, a supernatural power associated with high rank, divinity, maintenance of social order and social reproduction, as well as an abundance of water and fertility of the land. Mana was held to be so powerful that rules or taboos were necessary to regulate it in ritual and society. For example, an uninitiated person of low rank would never enter in a sacred enclosure without risking death. Mana was believed to be concentrated in certain parts of the body and could accumulate in objects, such as hair, bones, rocks, whale’s teeth, and textiles.

Gender roles in the arts

Gender roles were clearly defined in traditional Polynesian societies. Gender played a major role, dictating women’s access to training, tools, and materials in the arts. For example, men’s arts were often made of hard materials, such as wood, stone, or bone and men’s arts were traditionally associated with the sacred realm of rites and ritual.

Hawaiian kapa (barkcloth), 1770s, 64.5 x 129 cm (Te Papa, New Zealand)

Women’s arts historically utilized soft materials, particularly fibers used to make mats and bark cloth. Women’s arts included ephemeral materials such as flowers and leaves. Cloth made of bark is generically known as tapa across Polynesia, although terminology, decorations, dyes, and designs vary through out the islands.

Bark cloth as women’s art

Barkcloth Panel (Siapo), Samoa, early 20th century, 139.7 x 114.3 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Generally, to make bark cloth, a woman would harvest the inner bark of the paper mulberry (a flowering tree). The inner bark is then pounded flat, with a wooden beater or ike, on an anvil, usually made of wood. In Eastern Polynesia (Hawai’i), bark cloth was created with a felting technique and designs were pounded into the cloth with a carved beater. In Samoa, designs were sometimes stained or rubbed on with wooden or fiber design tablets. In Hawai’i patterns could be applied with stamps made out of bamboo, whereas stencils of banana leaves or other suitable materials were used in Fiji. Bark cloth can also be undecorated, hand decorated, or smoked as is seen in Fiji. Design illustrations involved geometric motifs in an overall ordered and abstract patterns.

Masi (tapa cloth), likely used as a room divider, Fiji, date unknown, 300 x 428 cm (Te Papa, New Zealand)

The most important traditional uses for tapa were for clothing, bedding and wall hangings. Textiles were often specially prepared and decorated for people of rank. Tapa was ceremonially displayed on special occasions, such as birthdays and weddings. In sacred contexts, tapa was used to wrap images of deities. Even today, at times of death, bark cloth may be integral part of funeral and burial rites.

Barkcloth strip, Fiji, c. 1800-50, worn as a loin cloth, decorated with a combination of free-hand painting, cut out stencils and by being laid over a patterned block and rubbed with pigment (The British Museum)

In Polynesia, textiles are considered women’s wealth. In social settings, bark cloth and mats participate in reciprocity patterns of cultural exchange. Women may present textiles as offerings in exchange for work, food, or to mark special occasions. For example, in contemporary contexts in Tonga, huge lengths of bark cloth are publically displayed and ceremoniously exchanged to mark special occasions. Today, western fabric has also been assimilated into exchange practices. In rare instances, textiles may even accumulate their own histories of ownership and exchange.

Hiapo: Niuean bark cloth

Tiputa (Poncho), 19th century, Niue (Te Papa, New Zealand), photo: CC BY-NC-ND

Niue is an island country south of Samoa. Little is known about early Niuean bark cloth or hiapo, as represented by the illustration depicted below. Niueans’ first contact with the west was the arrival of Captain Cook, who reached the island in 1774. No visitors followed for decades, not until 1830, with the arrival of the London Missionary Society. The missionaries brought with them Samoan missionaries, who are believed to have introduced bark cloth to Niue from Samoa. The earliest examples of hiapo were collected by missionaries and date to the second half of the nineteenth century. Niuean ponchos (tiputa) collected during this era, are based on a style that had previously been introduced to Samoa and Tahiti (see example at left). It is probable, however, that Niueans had a native tradition of bark cloth prior to contact with the West.

In the 1880s, a distinctive style of hiapo decorations emerged that incorporated fine lines and new motifs. Hiapo from this period are illustrated with complicated and detailed geometric designs. The patterns were composed of spirals, concentric circles, squares, triangles, and diminishing motifs (the design motifs decrease in size from the border to the center of the textile). Niueans created naturalistic motifs and were the first Polynesians to introduce depictions of human figures into their bark cloth. Some hiapo examples include writing, usually names, along the edges of the overall design.

Hiapo (tapa), Niue, c. 1850–1900, Tapa or bark cloth, freehand painting (Aukland War Memorial Museum)

Niuan hiapo stopped being produced in the late nineteenth century. Today, the art form has a unique place in history and serves to inspire contemporary Polynesian artists. A well-known example is Niuean artist John Pule, who creates art of mixed media inspired by traditional hiapo design.

Tapa today

Tapa traditions were regionally unique and historically widespread throughout the Polynesian Islands. Eastern Polynesia did not experience a continuous tradition of tapa production, however, the art form is still produced today, particularly in the Hawaiian and the Marquesas Islands. In contrast, Western Polynesia has experienced a continuous tradition of tapa production. Today, bark cloth participates in native patterns of celebration, reciprocity and exchange, as well as in new cultural contexts where it inspires new audiences, artists, and art forms.

Additional resources:

Adrienne L Kaeppler, The Pacific Arts of Polynesia and Micronesia (Oxford History of Art: Oxford University Press, Oxford/New York, 2008).

Roger Neich and Mick Pendergrast, Traditional Tapa: Textiles of the Pacific (Thames and Hudson Ltd.: London, 1997).

Simon Kooijman, Polynesian Barkcloth (Shire Ethnography: Aylesbury, U.K., 1988).

John Pule and Nicolas Thomas, Hiapo Past and Present in Niuean Barkcloth (University of Otago Press: Dunnedin, Aotearoa/New Zeland, 2005).

Karen Stevenson, The Frangipani is Dead: Contemporary Pacific Art in New Zealand 1985-2000 (Wellington: Aotearoa/New Zealand, 2008).

Irving and Electa Johnson Collection

The voyages of Irving and Electa Johnson aboard YANKEE are well known by everyone familiar with the sea.

Irving McClure Johnson was born on July 4, 1905 on the family farm in Hadley, Massachusetts and began training for a sailor’s life as a teenager. Irving Johnson began his early career as a mariner, both in the Merchant Marine and as a private yacht captain during the summer.

Johnson worked as Captain on board the SQUAW, a New York 40, for two years and then in 1926 on the CHARMIAN, a seventy foot Seawanhaka, for the next four summers. In order to fulfill his quest for adventure, Johnson joined the Merchant Marine in 1926 when he signed on as quartermaster on board the Grace Lines’ 360 passenger steamer, S.S. SANTA TERESA, for a three month voyage. In November of 1927 he shipped out on the S.S. STANLEY DOLLAR, a 401 foot freighter. After this voyage he signed on with the Dollar Steamship Line on their flagship the U.S.S. PRESIDENT WILSON as a cadet. On board he made his first voyage around the world from January 6, 1928- April 26, 1928. The following year he sailed with the Cunard Line on the R.M.S. AQUITANIA. This passage left him in Europe where he would set sail for his famous trip around the Horn on board the 345 foot barque PEKING in late November 1929, a voyage documented in a film entitled “Around Cape Horn.” In 1930 he made another exciting voyage across the Atlantic as First Mate on board SHAMROCK V. His last job as mate came when he signed on the WANDERBIRD.

While aboard the WANDER BIRD, he met Electa. After their marriage in 1933 they began a unique way of life. Sailing around the world in their own vessel the Johnsons shared their skill and knowledge of the sea with a hand-picked crew of interested and enthusiastic amateurs. With Gloucester, MA as their home port the YANKEE alternated between 18 month circumnavigations and 18 months of sailing trips on the Eastern Seaboard. With a crew generally composed of 4 girls, 16 men, 1 doctor, and a mate, the Johnsons sailed around the world seven times.

Their first vessel, the schooner YANKEE, made the voyage three times and was sold in 1941 prior to WWII. During the war Capt. Irving Johnson was called into the Navy when Admiral Kimmel insisted on having the foremost expert on the South Seas areas. Johnson’s sailing experience among the numerous atolls and treacherous coral reefs made him a natural choice in identifying and planning bases in the South Pacific. Captain Johnson was in Pearl Harbor on that fateful day, December 7, 1941. He was later assigned to the naval survey ship, U. S. S. SUMNER. The SUMNER surveyed, charted and blasted channels through coral reefs throughout the Pacific, in advance of the U.S. fleet.

In 1946 the Johnsons purchased the German North Sea Pilot Boat, DUHNEN. After her conversion to a Brigantine by the J.W. and A. Upham yard in Brixham, England, they resumed their sailing activities, in their new YANKEE, completing four additional circumnavigations (voyages four through seven,) during the next eleven years. The book “YANKEE’s People and Places” by Irving and Electa Johnson and Lydia Edes (a crew member) details the sixth voyage of the Brigantine YANKEE.

In 1959, they built their dream ship, the 50′ ketch YANKEE. Designed by Irving Johnson and Olin Stephens and built by Scheepswerf, Westhaven, Zaandam Holland, and with a hailing port of Mystic, CT, the Johnsons cruised on her throughout Europe’s canals, waterways and seas. The books, “YANKEE Sails Across Europe” and “YANKEE Sails the Nile” both by Irving and Electa Johnson, documents these travels.

In 1984 the Johnsons were featured in a National Geographic special entitled, “Irving Johnson, High Seas Adventurer.” Capt. Johnson also served as Trustee Emeritus of the Mystic Seaport Museum and South Street Seaport.

Scope and Content

The Irving and Electa Johnson collection contains 23 phase boxes and 56 volumes. It is organized into nine different series.

The first series, found in boxes 1-4, relates to papers involving only Irving Johnson. It is arranged chronologically and falls into three different time periods of Irving’s life, before he met Electa, while he was in the Navy and during his extensive lecturing career. In total this series includes correspondence, articles, diaries, journals, notebooks, expenses and ephemera.

The second series, found in boxes 5-8, relates to papers that correspond to the Schooner YANKEE. This series is arranged primarily chronologically but further grouping papers by correspondence, expenses and papers for the first three world cruises. Business papers and charter parties between the world cruises on the Schooner can also be found in this series. In total this series includes correspondence, provision lists, charter parties, crew lists, newsletters, business papers and articles.

The third series, found in boxes 9-11, relates to papers that correspond to the Brig YANKEE. Like series two, this series is arranged primarily chronologically but is furthered grouped by correspondence, expenses and papers. These papers however relate to the fourth through the seventh world cruise as well as the summer charter parties between these cruises. In total this series includes correspondence, charter parties, provision lists, newsletters, articles and business papers.

The fourth series, found in boxes 12-15, relates to papers that correspond to the Ketch YANKEE. This series is arranged chronologically and is also further grouped by correspondence, expenses, papers and business correspondence with Arthur Johnson.

The fifth series, found in boxes 16-17, contains miscellaneous papers that relate to this collection but not to one of the other specified series. Items that can be found are personal correspondence to Irving Johnson, undated expenses, checks and bank statements of Irving and Electa Johnson, screenplays, and articles written about Irving or the YANKEEs.

The sixth series, found in boxes 18-23, contains accounts from the crew of the various YANKEE voyages. These are usually complete day to day descriptions of one of the crew member’s or other highlights of the voyages. Items that are included are logs, diaries, journals, correspondence home to family members, scrapbooks and articles.

The seventh series contains logs, volumes 1-29, kept on board the Schooner YANKEE May 14, 1933-April 27, 1941 and the Brigantine YANKEE, from July 14, 1947-February 23, 1958. Kept by whomever was on watch, the logs contain mostly navigational and weather data, but are highlighted by occasional editorial comments about other crew members, conditions on board, or stopovers. These logs describe all seven circumnavigations as well as the sail of the Schooner YANKEE from Harwich to her home port in Gloucester, Ma and the Brigantine YANKEE from Brixham to Gloucester, Ma.

The eighth series contains account and expense books, volumes 30-35, from 1933-1955. The account books primarily record expenses aboard the Brig YANKEE, however volume 30 describes accounts of Yankee Cruises, Inc. during the first voyage of Schooner YANKEE.

The ninth series contains scrapbooks, volumes 36-56, of Irving and Electa. Spanning from 1920 to 1991, these volumes contain numerous pictures, articles, etc. of Irving and Electa’s life together at sea.


Restrictions on Access

Available for use in the Manuscripts Division

Various copying restriction apply. Guidelines are available from the Manuscripts Division.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog of the G. W. Blunt White Library. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Balfe, Judith H.
Donovan, David
Douglas, Edward
Dutilh, Jop M.
Ford, Jim
Hadcock, Ernest
Hall, Donald T.
Hayes, John A.
Holland, Edward
Johnson, Electa, 1909-
Moeller, Raymond
Pyle, Edwin
Pyle, Julie
Southworth, Rufus
Viard, Kenneth
Zacker, Edmund

Corporate Bodies (Including Vessels):

Aquitania (Steamship)
Charurian (Schooner)
Peking (bark)
President Wilson (Steamship)
Santa Theresa (Steamship)
Shamrock V (Cutter)
Squaw (Sloop)
Stanley Dollar (Steamship)
Wander Bird (Schooner)
Yankee (Brigantine)
Yankee (Ketch)
Yankee (Schooner)

Europe–Description and travel

Ocean travel
Voyages and travels
Voyages around the world

Account books

Administrative Information

Coll. 240, Manuscripts Collection, G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc.

Detailed Description of the Collection

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

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