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Samoan Material Culture

Lau'ie sleeping mats

Lau'ie sleeping mats

Mats made of lau'ie are mostly of the fine mat type known as 'ie tonga. As they are worn as skirts, they are described under clothing. Some not so thin, or as elaborately decorated with red feathers, are used as chief's sleeping mats termed 'ie moenga.

One donated to Bishop Museum by Tuitele of Leone is 6 feet, 10 inches long and 5 feet, 9 inches wide. The wefts average 13.5 to the inch. Each end has a short fringe of free weft ends. The side edges are formed by the simple half-turn technique. At one end, triangular strips of pandanus have been sewn on near the edge with the points projecting beyond the edge and lying on the fringe. Though no feathers are at present attached, remains of stitches show that it had this form of ornamentation and could be used as an 'ie tonga. Though the wefts average 13.5 to the inch, it is thicker than the usual fine mat and Tuitele states that it was used as a sleeping mat. The mat, like so many owned by high chiefs, bore a name. The name of the above is Tautala ma le amonga (Speak with a burden of food). The idea page 227conveyed by the name was that the person desirous of speaking to or consulting with the hereditary owner of the mat came bearing a burden of food on a pole (amonga). This was deposited outside the house and the bearer or the bearer's employer was privileged to speak (tautala) with his high chief. As the speech usually took the form of a request, the burden of food assisted materially in obtaining favorable attention.