Where are the best quality fine mats gone the Prime Minister asked.
This question was posed to the weavers of fine mats at the annual Fine Mat Display held yesterday at the EFKS Youth Hall at Sogi.
The annual fine mat display which is held before Mothers Day is the platform where the fine mat weavers who are part of the government Fine Mats Programme showcase their fine mats.
The programme is a government initiative to revive the weaving of the best quality fine mats ( the iniini and the ie sae). These at one time were rarely seen in the cultural presentations and ceremonies. Instead low quality mats which resemble sleeping mats were presented and in huge quantities. Thus the government decision to revive the weaving of the true Samoan fine mats.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said he keeps a look out for the fine mats displayed every year at ceremonies and cultural presentations but these are not appearing.
“ Where are these fine mats woven year after year?” Tuilaepa asked.
“ It is now more than ten years since the fine mat programme has come into existence with the intention that only the finely woven mats (ie sae or the iniini) will be used in our cultural presentations and ceremonies.”
According to Tuilaepa large quantities of low quality fine mats which resemble sleeping mats and sitting mats are still being used in the villages.
“These are bulky and heavy to cart around.”
Government will be requesting the villages to put a stop to the use of these poor grade fine mats but to use the finely woven mats which are displayed in the Annual Fine Mat Exhibition Tuilaepa added.
He also asked for these fine mats not to be sold to overseas and to countries which use these for wear because it is a treasured possession of Samoa.
These fine mats he said must not be hidden under the mattress but to use them in cultural presentations.
Tuilaepa asked the women that they advise strongly the men to use these good quality fine mats and discontinue the use of poor quality ones. He wishes this would happen in the very near future.
Tuilaepa reassured the women that the fine mats programme will continue despite being queried by the Ministry of Finance of no money government revenue being generated from this programme but government money is spent on it.
Close to 500 fine mats ( Numera Tasi) were displayed yesterday.