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What is Good for Apia is also good for Savaii!
"O le mea e lelei i Apia, e lelei foi mo Savaii"

Jul 16

Ie Samoa to be legislated

By Tupuola Terry Tavita

Samoa fine mat

Government is pushing ahead with plans to replace the inferior fine mats common today with the revived ie Samoa.

The Ie Samoa committee – chaired by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and co-chaired by Women and Community Minister Tolofuaivalelei Falemoe Leiataua – met this week to determine the course of the shift.

“The authentic ie Samoa is not only of a much finer quality of fine mat but is also much more majestic in terms of national treasure and material heritage. Its gold compared to the rocks of fine mats we see at funerals and weddings today.”

The Prime Minister said a bill is being devised to make the ie Samoa again the gold standard of traditional exchange in fine mats.

“The fine mat we now see around is not only very big but is very coarse and roughly woven. It’s almost like a sleeping mat. You give it to a palagi or an Asian and he doesn’t know what to do with it. They spread it on the floor and walk on it like a carpet.”

A government-led programme to revive the Ie Samoa has been ongoing the last five years. The programme includes promotion of the Ie Samoa among village falelalaga, traditional weaving committees, and national faalelegapepe, Ie Samoa displays, in Upolu and Savaii twice each year.

“So already there is a lot of Ie Samoa under old men and old women’s beds in the villages.”

The Prime Minister said that reports indicate that the selling price for quality Ie Samoa at the moment is $5000.

“It is particularly popular with the Tongans. So there is plenty of monetary return for the Ie Samoa and for the weavers in the villages.”

According to Tolofuaivalelei, some of the old Ie Samoa he has seen are kept in museums in New Zealand and Germany.

“After a hundred years they are still in fine quality. That is what we are trying to revive.

“It is about eight to ten gafa (half-lengths) and because it is so finely-woven, you can fold it and put it in a small bag.

“Certainly none of the big heavy mats of today that you need to use a breadfruit pole to string up and weightlifters to carry,” said Prime Minister Tuilaepa.

The Prime Minister said that there can still be some use for the plethora of ‘ugly’ fine mats around.

“It can be used to weave baskets, to make straw hats or living room carpets. We are looking at a plan for that.”

Agriculture – he added – has been running a programme for some years now to plant different varieties of pandanus – laufala, lau ie and lau u’a – so there is ample supply of material to weave the Ie Samoa.

Author: Savali
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