In late May to early June 2006, I travelled to Samoa to learn more about my heritage. I took a digital camera and visited the market in Apia where I took photographs of the Samoan jewellery and talked to the artists whose work was on display there. This is what they told me:
Samoan jewellery is made from local materials by local people. It is made to enhance the beauty of Samoan people and is very original, unique, and ingenious in its own way. There are many different kinds of Samoan jewellery. They are as follows:
These are made from coconut shell, green coconut shell, paua and oyster shells, bone or boars' teeth. They come in many different shapes such as breadfruit leaves, hooks, turtles, teardrops, or hibiscus. They can be further embellished with decoration. For this paint can be used, or sennit which is the thread made from the coconut fibre.
These are made from the shell of a coconut, ususally mature coconuts which give them a dark colour. They come in all different shapes and sizes with various designs and patterns. They can be decorated with green coconut shell or tapa.
There are numerous kinds of necklaces made from bone, dried black plant seeds (used like beads) and green coconut from which pendants can be carved. Their shapes range from axes, geckos, Samoan fales (houses), coconuts or wild boar teeth. Ula Nifo (a necklace made from bone) is usually worn by the taupo (chief's daughter) during dance festivals and other special occasions.
There are two kinds of hair clips for ladies. One is made from coconut fibre and the other is made from coconut shells. The coconut shell is also used to carve combs. After they have carved out the shell, they are sanded down to smooth the rough edges. Then, to give them a shiny effect, a gloss is applied.
I think that Samoan jewelry is very special. The fact that it is made locally by Samoan people themselves gives it significance. It conveys a Samoan way of life and symbolises Samoan culture. It is decorative and appealing. There is no other art quite like it.