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Famous Samoan Wood Carvings That You Should Not Miss

wood carvingsApart from Samoa’s pristine waters and majestic landscapes, the ‘Jewel of the Pacific’ also boasts her creativity in various art forms. Samoans are famous for their dances like the sasa and the siva afi, otherwise known as the Samoan fire dance which is commonly performed by men.  The Samoan people also practice their ingenuity through songs, literature and tattoos or body art. But perhaps the one form of art that the Samoans are best known for are their wood carvings.

Samoan wood carvings are known for their unique concepts with intricate designs.  These carved works of art are produced from local Samoan hardwood by very skilful, traditional woodcarvers.  Most of their wood carvings depict the Samoan lifestyle, culture and art forms. Often they inculcate natural scenery with animals like geckos and tropical birds. They also utilize plants, vines and flowers in their carvings.  In the olden days, these wooden sculptures were originally crafted for ceremonial and spiritual purposes.  At the present time, these carvings make for great souvenir items.  You can find many finely done pieces at reasonable prices.  Samoans have always intended to create enduring works of art.  Artists have been limited by strict, formal conventions peculiar to the traditions of the island; nevertheless many produced works have revealed great creative imagination within stylized forms.

Samoan wood carving is a common practice among families.  The village of Uafato is the most eastern of the villages in Fagaloa bay, and is nestled between the sea and Rainforest Mountains.  Like most villages in Samoa, the people of Uafato maintain a traditional lifestyle and culture governed by fa’a Samoa, the matai chiefly system and va tapu’ia interact with their natural environment.  The village is a centre for traditional woodcarving where visitors can watch carvers make kava bowls, war clubs and other local crafts.  This is the area of Samoa covering only eight villages, where all the hereditary traditional woodcarving families have lived for centuries.  They are also the families who have always carved for Samoan royalty.

There are some other unique gift items from Samoa like  hand carved trays and ava bowls. One of the most important customs of the Samoan Islands involves a solemn ritual where cups of ava (also known as Kava) are shared from a common bowl to mark the most important occasions in Samoan society.  It is not an everyday event as it is in some countries, but is a very special ceremony for the Samoans.  The bowls are hand carved from a solid piece of local hardwood, usually the ifilele, a hard-grained timber of a maple color.

The Samoans have a lot of pride in their carvings.  In fact, they encourage Samoan children to learn this tradition.  If you fly to Samoa, wood carvings from the Samoan School of Fine Arts will greet you as they are displayed in the lobby of the airport.  If you are lucky you may get to see art students in action in the airport, demonstrating their skills and knowledge at wood carving.  If you miss that, we at Samoa Hacienda and Fatima’s Bed & Breakfast are more than happy to direct you to some good Samoan wood carving venues.

It is evident that there is so much culture and fun activities to enjoy, while you are staying at our Samoa Hacienda or Fatima’s Bed & Breakfast in Apia.

Please Call for your Booking TODAY!  Ph +685-26715 or CLICK on RESERVATION on the upper right corner of this page

Comment (1)

emma says:
June 20, 2013 at 7:12 am

so awesome me and my friend ella are focasing on samoan art and comunication

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