American Samoa > Local Customs Fa'a Samoa

Fashion from the Old Days

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Tavita Tusitala:
A group of village dancers pose for the camera before the missionaries made them cover up. They have dresses of tapa cloth (mulberry) and fine mat (pandanus) Necklaces made of seeds, shells and flowers. Flowers and green leaves in hair.
Some village dancers dress this way to perform today, but cover up their tops.

Village women pose for sivasiva picture

Tavita Tusitala:
Three girls sit and the one in the middle mixes kava in the kava bowl. A boy looks on from behind the coconut palm. It looks like they have cotton lavalavas, something that came with first missionaries and traders.

Making Kava from the 'ava root.

Tavita Tusitala:
The woman in the middle is wearing a fine mat made from the leaves of the pandanus tree. In the old days each young woman would weave a fine mat and the quality of it was proof of her marriageability.
They are probably dressed for a sivasiva dance or other ceremonial festivities.

Tavita Tusitala:
1924 photo of a man and woman in traditional clothing for a sivasiva or other festivities. The man has a lavalava, the woman a fine mat skirt.

Samoans invented the firedance, a dance with flaming swords now seen all over polynesia in polynesian dance revues or Hawaiian luaus.

Tavita Tusitala:
Old engraving of usual casual attire of the old days. With 100 percent humity and 75-85 degrees most the time it is very uncomfortable to have heavy clothes.

Some remote villages still have a relaxed feel, but such dress is rare to be seen in public.
Comfortable wear from the old days

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