Samoan Material Culture
Papa or paongo mats
Papa or paongo mats
The wefts in the coarse papa mats (Plate XVII, A, 1) made of lau-paongo were an inch or more in width. Two strips of leaf were used as double wefts and were reversed so that a tip and butt end coincided to insure an even thickness in the double weft. Where a half leaf produced two wefts, the undivided butt portion was run out to the end to separate them. The right forefinger and thumb held the butt end of one strip while the butt end of the other was reversed between the second and third right fingers. The left hand seized the butt end of the second strip and the two hands were drawn apart, thus reversing the ends of the second strip and forming the double weft.
Plaiting commences by defining the corner (fig. 112) and is extended from the corner by adding double wefts to the left. (See fig. 113.)
Figure 113.—Pandanus mat (paonga), first corner:
a, a third weft (3,3') is added on the left by placing it parallel with the second weft and interlacing its elements with the two crossing wefts formed by the bent in limbs of the first weft. The check technique between individual elements is usually carried out with the third weft only in order to flatten down the corner. b, The far edge is defined by the second weft in exactly the same way as the far edge of the corner was defined by the first weft. Hence, the upper right element (2) is raised out of the way and the lower right element (2') is bent forward at right angles and passed to the left over both elements of the left weft (3, 3'). c, The upper right element (2) is straightened out and bent backwards around the margin formed by its pair mate (2'). The upper left element (3) is raised and dropped over the working right element (2) after it has crossed the lower left element (3'). The bend formed by the second weft thus continues the far margin commenced at the corner. d, The right margin is further defined by the second weft in exactly the same manner as the right edge of the corner was defined by the first weft. Hence, both elements of the left weft (3, 3') are raised, the upper right element (2) is turned backwards at right angles to pass to the left and both elements of the left weft dropped over it. e, The upper left element (3) is raised, the lower right element (2') is bent upwards at right angles around the margin formed by (2) and after it has passed to the left over the lower left element (3'), the upper element (3) is dropped over it.
As each subsequent weft is added on the left, the check technique is maintained with the double wefts but not with their individual elements except at the marginal turns forming the edge which are a repetition of the technique shown. When sufficient wefts have been added to get a working edge of dextrals, the plaiter twists the plaiting into a convenient position so that she may work in orthodox fashion.page 215
The papa mats may be made in any size, but the common form is a little over 2 feet wide and 6 to 7 feet long. It is usual to plait one short end and then plait sections across the length so that the wefts may be turned in at the sides, thus employing fewer wefts on the shorter sections. After forming the first corner, the corner is turned to the left and a working section carried along until the 2 feet width is obtained. The next corner is then turned as in figure 114.
Figure 114.—Pandanus mat (paonga), second corner:
a, The weft (1, 1') is the last added and the weft (2, 2') has been turned in the orthodox way. In order to form the corner with the right weft (1, 1') it must be turned in two turns of right angles so as to return into the plaiting parallel with its previous course. b, The upper right element (1) is lifted and the lower element (1') turned forward at right angles to its course to be parallel with the left weft (2, 2'). c, The upper right element (1) is straightened out and turned backwards at right angles to pass around the lower edge margin defined by its pair mate (1'). This completes the first right angle turn. d, The upper right element (1') is now lifted out of the way and the lower right element (1) is turned upwards at right angles to pass over both elements of the left (2, 2'). e, The remaining right element (1') is straightened out and the upper left element (2) lifted. The right element (1') is then bent backwards at right angles around the right edge margin defined by its pair mate (1) and turned to the left over the lower left element (2') when the upper left element (2) is dropped over it. f, The double weft (1) is then carried back along the working edge as a sinistral, and the corner is defined. In the next movement, the weft (2) will be bent in and plaited with the elements of 3 in the usual edge technique shown in d and e.
When the various working sections which have the left and right edges defined by the edge technique have resulted in the mat nearing the required length, the left edge and left corner are completed. The far edge and far end of the right edge are reached by turned-in wefts from both margins. They are simply left on as extra thick wefts and instead of turning single elements at the remaining parts of the edges, two strips of material may form each turning element of a weft. In some mats, the extra strips are cut off before reaching the edge turn. These extra strips are then turned individually at right angles and run back by being pushed under crossing wefts already plaited. They give the false appearance of a double edge. The true edge formed by orthodox technique is distinguished by the turning wefts forming triangles. On turning the extra wefts forward, they cross not only a triangular space but the next full weft space as well before they pass under a crossing weft, as will be seen in the upper left corner of Plate XVII, A, 1.
At the last corner where the working edge runs out, the turned-back wefts have to be pushed individually under a sufficient number of crossing wefts already plaited in position to fix them.page 216
New wefts are added by simply laying them on the shortening wefts and plaiting them together for a number of strokes. The shortening weft is then dropped and subsequently cut off close under a crossing weft to hide the end.
Sometimes papa mats are marked by a woman making two or three nicks, or steps, at a corner, or putting in a short row of twill on the body to distinguish her own property.