Samoan fine mat set to exhibit in Japan

UNIQUE: Leadership Samoa help with the fa'ataelaga of a fine mat at Sataua. [Samoa Observer]

Samoa’s most prized possession, the fine mat, is being touted for exhibition in Japan.

The Senri Foundation, which plans cultural events at the National Musuem of Ethnology in Osaka, says the ie sae will be exhibited in the near future.

A foundation spokesperson, Shinya Oda, says the foundation has dedicated the mat to National Museum of Ethnology.

“So it is for exhibition which introduces a life and culture of Samoa,” says Oda.

The foundation bought the fine mat, an ie sae, from Women in Business earlier this year and recently wrote asking for details to accompany an exhibition.

The ie sae was woven by Tufutafoe weaver,ApisekaFalefa, who says she is honoured that Japan is recognising a treasure of Samoa.

The ie sae that was bought was a “strip- one ie sae”, which means it is made from pandanus strips that are 1.2mm to 1.8mm wide.

At her home on the south-west coast of Savai’i, Falefa’s fingers dart in and out as she pulls back some threads and pushes others forward on another fine mat.

“Some people say weaving a fine mat is too hard but I keep working at it. They just give up too easily.”

Falefa is regarded as one of Samoa’s best weavers. In national annual competitions that began in 2004, the Fa’alelegapepe, she has won a top prize five times.

Since learning the art of ie sae weaving through a Women in Business workshop to revitalise the dying art in 1999, Falefa has woven 12 ie sae. In 2003 she was awarded a brand new fridge as the organisation’s top weaver.

She is also one of their sponsored weavers, which means a sponsor makes small, regular deposits to Women in Business, which are paid to her each fortnight. These payments sustain her until the mat is finished, which is usually around six months.

The making of ie sae is also starting to attract more local attention because the quality of the mats is so distinctive.

Last month, Leadership Samoa took its 2012 intake to Sataua to the family of weaver of SeulaLafaele.

The group went to view and participate in the fa’ataelega, the washing of a newly complete ie sae.


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