Sunday, March 1, 2015

How 'Bout Them Legs?

Sister Lynda Bennett & Elder Larry Bennett
Pesega, Samoa - March 1, 2015
 According to Wikipedia:
"A lava-lava is an article of daily clothing traditionally worn by Polynesians and other Oceanic peoples. It consists of a single rectangular cloth worn as a skirt.[1] The term lava-lava is both singular and plural in the Samoan language.  Today the fashion remains common in Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga and parts of Melanesia and Micronesia.  It is worn by men and women in uses from school uniforms to business attire with a suit jacket and tie. Many people of Oceanic ethnicity wear the lava-lava as an expression of cultural identity and for comfort within expatriate communities, especially in the United States (notably Hawai'iCaliforniaWashington, and Utah), Australia, and New Zealand.

In pre-contact times, the most prestigious lava-lava were made by wrapping the body in a ie toga with fine mats (finely woven textiles of pandanus leaves) or siapo (tapa cloth) pounded from paper mulberry or wild hibiscus bark. The Samoans also created lava-lava from traditional materials such as flower petals, leaves, feathers and seashells tied to a wrap-around backing of plaited plant fibers.
Calico and loomed cotton cloth had largely replaced woven or barkcloth lava-lava as articles of daily use (though ie toga and siapo wraps are still used today for ceremonial and festive occasions and dance performances). Samoan men who bear the pe'a body tattoo, as well as Samoan women who bear the malu leg tattoos often roll the waistband of thelava-lava or tuck in the sides and rear portion(s) of the lava-lava to expose their tattoo during dance performances or ceremonial functions (such as kava ceremonies), a style referred to as agini.

Current Forms  Specially tailored linen lava-lava which extend mid-calf, often with pockets and ties/buckles, are worn by men at special occasions or to church; these are always solid colors (in contrast to the bright patterns of everyday lava-lava) and are known as sulu (Fijian), ie faitaga (Samoan), or tupenu (Tongan). Similar ankle-length skirts form the lower half of the two-piece formal dress worn by Samoan and Tongan women (called puletasi and puletaha, respectively). On special occasions the Tongan tupenu and puletaha are usually associated with a tapa cloth or waist-mat called ta'ovala and some Samoans still wear a tapa cloth vala sash in similar fashion (though the vala is generally restricted to ceremonial/festive regalia of orators or people acting/dressing as taupou maidens and manaia beaus). The formal, tailored linen lava-lava styles of Tonga, Samoa, and Fiji originated with the Fijian noble Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna who introduced the buckled sulu to Fiji in 1920 following his military service and university education in Europe.
Loudly colored lava-lava made from materials such as satinvelvetpolyester, and sequins have recently been popularized among performance dance groups and village, church, or school-based choirs."
Not much chance of seeing Elder Bennett in any of those fancy bright ones, but I think he is charming sporting the one he wore to church on Sunday!

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