ie toga

katy is very close to guessing the current title…here’s another hint: the author’s last name rhymes with sillyman.


am still reviewing…a chapbook by Jacinta Galea’i, a samoan writer…in looking up a reference in the book to “ie toga”, found this pic and then some info on these woven mats. hope all are well! comment and let me know you’re still out there 😉


‘Ie Toga (Fine Mats): Like siapo (bark cloth), the production of ‘ie toga (fine mats) remains firmly within the domain of Samoan women. In fact, the ‘ie toga is unequivocally the most culturally valued artistic product created in Samoa. While Samoans produce many types of mats produced for a variety of purposes (bedding, room dividers, and floor coverings), the fine mat is technically superior. On average, these mats contain 12 pandanus leaf strips per inch, while some of the finest ones have considerably more, taking several years to make since the average size is six to eight feet square. To achieve the mat’s incredible softness, women remove the dull underside of the leaf before plaiting, then use a double-layered weft technique to give a smooth finish to both sides. To complete the piece, one or more borders of feathers are aligned to run parallel with the lower edge. In the past, red parrot feathers were used, but today the color spectrum has widened to include a variety of colors, many of which are achieved by dyeing chicken feathers. The production, use and exchange of all fine mats reinforce social position and gender roles, while allowing the artistic creativity of women to flourish.

Made and controlled by women, ‘ie toga are given as gifts at events marking major life events (births, weddings, funerals, title taking). While lesser mats and bark cloth are also exchanged during these events, fine mats hold the most prestige. If fine mats are included in the gift exchange, it bestows great honor on the recipient, and increases the standing of the gift-giver. ‘Ie toga are quickly noticed and appreciated by event spectators. Women gesture gracefully during the presentation, signaling the mat’s importance and bringing attention to its beauty. Influenced by family and political relations, gift giving and the accompanying reciprocal exchanges continually reaffirm personal connections, relative rank, and social power. In addition to gift giving, ‘ie toga are also worn during important public events where they take on a much broader communal significance. Fine mats may also be given to honored guests and can be critical components in attempts at reconciliation and peace making. For these purposes, immediate reciprocal exchange is not a factor.

While fine mats remain the traditional form of wealth for a Samoan family, the social importance of fine mats lies in their living histories. These histories must be followed individually to fully appreciate their significance. Pertinent information includes who made the mat, who owned/wore it, and on what occasions was it exchanged. This history, a tangible part of the mat, increases its perceived value, as the significance of each factor is carefully negotiated on every occasion. Therefore, fine mats contain a time dimension unlike most artistic products, as they have a past that is continually reevaluated and renegotiated. They also play a prominent role in the present as retained by families as symbols of status and wealth, while holding great promise for future prosperity due to the fine mats ability to solidify social and political alignments during important events.

(posted from a source i am too lazy to cite).


6 thoughts on “ie toga

  1. okay so, i had to cheat a bit. is that okay? i thought a lot about it though…

    this isn’t anything i’ve read or even heard of before… but i thought more about constellations and stars and *clink* lightbuld…

    gardner of stars… so i looked it up and the author’s name rhymes with sillyman, it’s harryman, carla.

    like i said, i had to cheat a bit. so i don’t know if get the point… maybe only half a point.

  2. oh and the new title is Noah Eli Gordon’s The Area of Sound Called the Subtone

    Noah is responsible for everything i don’t know about poetry. my first college-level poetry course was called “Experimental Poetry” with Noah. Noah has lots of tattoos on his arms.

  3. how neat that you took a class with noah. when i got my second tattoo, my poetry became much more experimental…

    i like giving you points because….

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