Get rid of rough fine mats overseas

The prized Samoan fine mats

The prized Samoan fine mats

By Alan Ah Mu

APIA: THURSDAY 04 APRIL 2013: No more rough, sloppy fine mats.

Those in circulation should be taken to American Samoa, Australia and New Zealand and deposited in rubbish dumps there, said Tolofuaivalelei Falemoe Leiataua, Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development.

Government’s drive to revive quality fine mats for exchange at cultural events continues with weavers invited to display their products at exhibitions in Savai’i and Upolu islands on May 9and 10 respectively.

Owners of top exhibits stand to win $5,000 and $2,000 in prize money.

Over the decades fine mats have fallen far below traditional standards in quality.

Size and quantity replaced fineness.

They have changed hands at cultural gatherings in Samoan communities throughout the world.

Restoration of the “dignity” of fine mats as a one of the treasures of Samoa is the aim, Tolofuaivalelei said.

At the forefront of efforts to restore fine mats – known as ‘ie sae’, ‘iniini’ and ‘ie Samoa’ – to their former glory is Women In Business Development Samoa.

Its website describes traditional fine mats as “very soft, finely woven.”

“When kept for many years, the very finely woven ie sae resembles a piece of fabric almost the quality of fine silk.

“Their softness is ensured by only using leaves from a particular species of pandanus, and by the special treatment process used on the leaves before they are used for weaving.

“The mats are still today highly prized in Samoan and Tongan culture and are used for traditional exchange and gift giving as part of important ceremonies and rites of passage such as weddings, funerals and in the investiture of chiefly titles.”