Reference: SPT

Title:The Crafts of Tonga.

Length: 1100 words.

Published previously. SBSR and non-British rights available.

Travel operator: Orient Lines.

About the author: Derrick Grover.

Two extracts.

Palace of King Taufa'ahau Toupou

"Tonga provides the finest mat weaving world-wide," we had been told by the lecturer on board our cruise ship, the Marco Polo. We were to find out how it was done at the Tonga National Centre. It has surprised us that an island in such a remote part of the South Pacific should be a bustling centre of activity. Estimates of anthropologists suggest that their ancestry can be traced back to Indonesia and South East Asia. Their navigational skills together with the constant westerly winds enabled them to explore over thousands of miles of the Pacific ocean. The physical attributes necessary to achieve such feats are reflected in the people of today. Most of the men are massive but the visitor need have no fears on that score. Their traditions and the extensive influence of christianity make these some of the safest countries to visit.

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Splitting the coconut

Trays and basket work are woven from the leaves of the pandanus palm tree. The leaves are stripped down to their fibre using a sea shell and then dried in the sun until they assume a corn colour. The leaf which is wide is slit into strips; the more narrow the strip the more expensive the cloth since more work will have been performed in its weaving. A pleasing pattern is woven into the basket work with strips of different shades of brown. The finished articles are evidence of the considerable skill needed for their assembly. Mats, trays and caskets of various shapes and sizes are among the items for sale at reasonable prices.

Other topics in this article.

Climate; Anthropology; Queen Salote; Uses of Paper Mulberry tree and Panadanus palm tree; Weaving; Kava; Food and dress.

Photographs supporting this article.

Palace of King Taufa'ahau Toupou

Splitting the cocoanut

Lupula sandwich wrapped in taro leaf


Roofing design.

View some photographs here.

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