Map of Tonga in the South Pacific

Map of Tonga in the South Pacific

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The many (!) steps of mat making in Tonga

November 5, 2010

One month in the Peace Corps, 4 more weeks of training, one week of attatchment (living with a Volunteer at the site you’ll be assigned to for 2 years),  a final few days which includes the dreaded language test, and then Swearing In on December 15. 

The weaving.

I’ll try to give you some idea of the steps and workmanship involved with the mats that are woven. Some are for the floor, some are finer and used on tables for special occasions. All of them are time and labor intensive. My apologies if I’m wrong on any of this, but this is what I’ve been able to learn. I’ll use photos. Enjoy. If you have further questions, feel free to ask, and I’ll try to find out. Some are made for overseas Tongans, and they pay large amounts for them. This is a way for the families to make some money, and everyone is very happy when a weaving group is able to sell a mat overseas.

The leaves are harvested and the spines along the edges and the center spine are removed.

The leaves are coiled in preparation for boiling them.

The boiling pot full of leaves.

The leaves are put into bundles of 20. Next stop: the ocean for 8 days.

The leaves are split lengthwise, with only the more flexible half saved.

They are coiled and hung out to dry. Next they are again put into 10” coils.

The strips are cut into narrow strips.

Weaving the mat.

The finished product.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this and the photos. What a process to get everything ready for the weaving of the mats. Love the 'pig' story. My childhood experiences with pigs is that one of my model airplanes flew into a neighbors pig pen. I waded into the 'slop' to get it and when I got home my mom wasn't to happy about the smell on my pants and shoes. But the plane lived to fly again!

    Good to see you both in the photos and you are looking 'cool' in the native attire.

    How often do you get rain there? Everything is so green.