The ’Ie Tōga Pepa Replica: A Material Exploration Into Samoan Weaving Design and Techniques
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This autoethnographic research project explores the extent to which the weaving techniques of the finely woven 'Ie Tōga (fine mat), the highly valued treasure of Samoa, could be replicated through substituting the traditional pandanus leaf for paper. This is examined through a series of material tests that explore the techniques of fine mat weaving under the conditions of paper to produce a quality that is similar to the traditional 'Ie Tōga. The weaving design and techniques drawn on in this project are learned by analysing my family heirloom, our 'Ie Tōga (fine mat), video and photographic imagery collected from books and online sources. This method of analysis, to observe, learn, test, and adapt using these contextual resources, was prompted by the Covid-19 virus. The closing of borders between New Zealand and Samoa through the duration of this project resulted in 'using things at hand' as a way of learning and making. This project shares the hidden voices of the women's role behind the weaving, survival and sacrifice to protect what we have today as one of the most precious items in ceremony and gift exchanges, important in fa'asamoa (Samoan way).