Samoa
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Moata’a women revive a unique artform – the Embroidered Fala Su’i 

By Lagi Keresoma.

APIA, SAMOA – 09 MARCH 2023: As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, members of the Moata’a Village Women’s Committee have launched into reviving their Measina – an art form unique to the village – the embroidered mat – Fala Su’i.

The village takes pride in the Fala Su’i as they are known in Samoa for their skills in sewing colourful and expansive themes and images on a woven mat as a painter would on canvas.

The village’s Government representative –Sui Tamaitai o le Nu’u, Samalaulu Keri I’iga said the knowledge and skills of embroidering mats is a “gift” that has been passed down through the generations.

“Different generations responded differently and many took pride in the artform as a Measina that is unique to our village,” she told Talamua.

“But there had been a long gap over the years and the knowledge and interest seemed to have been lost.”

Opportunity to Revive
Samalaulu said the golden opportunity to revive the lost art, came when the Government introduced its $1 million District Development Project, as it provided the funds needed to revive the Fala Su’i before it was lost completely.

The village Member of Parliament, Lenata’i Tamapua had been pushing for the project given its uniqueness and significance to the village.

Moata’a is one of 7 villages of the Vaimauga No 2 district and from the $450,000 the district received under the Million Dollar Development Project, each village got $50,000.

“We discussed which project to focus on and we settled on reviving the Fala Su’i, and last weekend, we launched both the Fala Su’i and sewing projects in our village,” said Samalaulu.

“Our share of the funds was used to buy the mats – Falalili’i from our own members and the material needed for the work,” said Samalaulu.

Moataa Falasu'i 3
Moataa Falasu'i 3

Another completed mat with religious themes.

Immediate overseas interest for orders
What surprised them was the immediate public interest especially Samoans overseas after posting pictures of their work on Facebook.

“We sold one Fala Su’i a day later for $500 and we have received orders from mostly church minister’s wives overseas,” she said.

The important thing for the committee is the generation of funds from the project and the direct benefit on their members and the village.

The cost for an embroidered mat varies from $500 to $1000 depending on the size and complexity and final look of the design.

Documenting the knowledge and history of Fala Su’i
Samalaulu could not recall how or where the Fala Su’i originated from and how it became an art form that relates to their village. But growing up in Moata’a, she witnessed families’ interest in the Fala Su’i as their means of income. But the difficulty then was attracting and accessing a sustainable market.

That seems to be resolved now with the easy access to social media as they found out on the first day they posted samples of their products on facebook last weekend.

Fortunately, there are surviving elders of the village with the knowledge and the Committee is working with them not only to revive the art form but also to access their knowledge and stories that could contribute to a documented history of their Measina. She recalled that Moata’a was normally tasked to decorate the Tiafau malae with Fala Su’i during the past independence celebrations and they were remunerated for that service.

As they work to revive a dying art form, the Village Committee is also working to collect any information in order to document the origins and history of Fala Su’i in the village.

“With todays’ technology, we are looking at researching and documenting the history of the Fala Su’i for future generations of the village. It is our Measina, and it is for us to hold on to it,” she said.

Fortunately, there are surviving elders of the village with the knowledge and the Committee is working with them not only to revive the art form but also to access their knowledge and stories that could contribute to a documented history of their Measina.

She is also excited with the interest shown by the young women of the village who are already participating in the project to revive their unique art form.

Moataa Falasu'i 2
Moataa Falasu'i 2

The Falasu’i – unique to the Moataa village on the path of revival.