Based on the distinctive yellow and red woven material from which it is made, this military jacket is believed to have originated from Tuvalu. This colour combination appears in other well-documented examples of weaving from the area. Jackets and shirts were introduced to the Pacific by nineteenth-century missionaries and sailors. Military jackets, hats, and regalia were sought after by people in some Pacific societies as symbols of social status.
Materials The jacket is made in a military style. It has a tunic collar and long sleeves made from red and yellow pandanus matting, which has been cut out and hand sewn. It has five, large, round, pearl shell buttons, and epaulettes of plaited and fringed red-dyed plant fibres. A pearl shell 'star' is on the right breast and there are two lower pockets.
SignificanceThe jacket is a significant example of how Pacific peoples have used local materials to make introduced forms of clothing. It is related to a dress and hat in the collections that have been made in a similar way from the same materials. Items such as this jacket remind us that Pacific peoples often responded creatively to and actively appropriated new material culture and ideas.