from notes archived at Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawai'i
Fans & mats
floor mat = farao
window mat = kakai
poar hapa = half plaited leaf
poar ha = both halfs of coconut leaf
Half of split sago leaf plait for wall or roof = oathapa. Both halves are oat ha.
Coconut poar hapa and poar ha: the halves are placed with one tip over the other tip to make it thicker for a roof. Roofs use two halves.
The half or oat hapa is used as a "shingle" for a wall; walls use single halfs. The leaf was split down the mid-rib and then each half woven.
Tapakau mats were used for serving food and were formerly used as doors in openings of houses.
Tatau = mat woven like tapakau mat, but much larger. When used as a bed wall for the sau it was called fatiag; fatiag rua = two used and closed at ends, with the sau inside.
siav (siva) = fan
raga = to shred; to split pandanus leaves (sa'aga or kiakia) flatwise, tearing off and rejecting the back of the leaf, preparatory to making fine mats
kakai = single-panel coconut-leaf mat used as door
pora = coconut-leaf used for walls or roofs
ota = sago-palm door
tatau = chief's sleeping apartment separated by a wall reaching part way up
tapa kau = chief's eating mat. This is two halves of a coconut leaf woven together like the screens, but much more finely. It is used ordinarily for the chiefs' food, the 'umefe was used only on big occasions.
'eap 'ateag = the mat ordinarily used for the food at meals. An ordinary 'eap is reserved for the purpose and rolled up after meals.
'epa = mat made from pandanus leaves (sa'aga) prepared for mat-making; 'ate = to eat
The leaves of the following plants are used in weaving mats:
This doubling twisted upon itself is a very clever way of arranging the leaves so that they will dry properly when left in the sun, without constant attention to turning them over. Those leaf "sticks" are left to dry out completely when they are rolled over the fingers again and then slipped into "sticks". This is the material ready for matmaking. Each leaf is split later with a fish bone point into four parts or sticks.
The mat is commenced by laying two strips on each other so that the ends overlap two inches. Two more strips are separately bent over these strands at right angles. A second overlapping pair is laid // to and under the first strip and over the other. One end of the first double strip is bent over the next, which starts the side edge of the mat. Another // strip is laid on with the first two strips and twisted over this. The result is three // double strips, four crossover 1st strips. Each end that is twisted over from the preceding double strip constitutes a new cross strip, as the twist is at right angles.
Thus the warp is created by the double strips, and the woof by the first two right angle strips and the warp ends that are twisted over at right angles.
The width of the mat is woven in this way, and then the weaving is started again in the original corner and woven across.
The weaving is a diagonal checkerboard. Variations: a skip in the warp of two = foi hapa; skip of two in the warp, then two in the weft, giving a herring bone effect = foi. Usually done every fifth or tenth, ... stitch.
Fish bones are used as leaf splitters
A floor mat of oblique weaving is ended by turning down each strand of the weft over the warp. That is, a weft is given a double twist so that it will lie over a strand of the warp, then the weaver weaves this strand into the mat, and another weft comes to the top. This is given a double twist and laid over the next warp strand, and then this is incorporated into the band she is weaving across. As she moves across the mat the wefts at the top or the fifth one of the band must be turned down over a warp. This gives a twisted band effect along the final edge, with all the warp ends sticking out diagonally.
These are used today as a basis for applying the woolen fringe.
The material for the white mats is of finer texture than that of the others. The cut leaves are pulled of the thorns and then they are peeled of the rougher upper surface of the leaf, leaving the smooth shiny under surface. Usually a woman will call in all her neighbours to aid in this job. The split leaves are tied at the end in bundles, and these are submerged in the sea for a night. Heavy stones are laid on the bundles to keep them from moving with the tides. The next morning the bundles are removed and set in the wells or in tubs of fresh water to soak for the day. After the soaking they are rolled and pulled into "sticks" and allowed to dry thoroughly. The soaking and drying produces the proper white or bleached color. The leaves are finally rolled and left in coils, until needed for weaving.
Weaving warp and weft each in two overlaid strands. Six overstitches with the first pulled tight and bent back to make a crease. This is called the te sala.
A mat is begun with two strips of sa'aga partially split into 1/4" strips, one laid over the other to give the double strands
The weaving is done diagonally. When the edge is reached, the warp is twisted at right angles and becomes woof.
After the width is determined by laying one sasaga strip next to the other and they are woven together, a wool thread is run across the mat binding each strand = hafuaga
When several women are working on the mat, each works a te sala across. A te sala is a band of weaving 6 overstitches wide. It is marked on the mat by a crease, which is made by pulling tight the sixth strand and bending it back to make a crease.
The rolled strips of prepared sa'aga are called hala hanu.
sa'aga = a kind of non-fruiting pandanus, the best kind for mat-making; fine white mats (apei) are made from sa'aga leaves.
hafu = to make the first row of (mat), to bind the thatch to the rafters (house); hafuga: the edge of a mat where the weaving begins.
hala = to make the first row of stitches in weaving a mat; hanu = unfinished edge (of mats in the making) with straggly ends of material projecting.
Variation: 1 weft over 3, next over 2, next over 1, then 5 in and out.