Adi Arieta Kabu of Nakawaga, Mali Island with her array of weaved products. Picture: RAMA
IT takes great skill to weave intricate basket or fine mats. Fijiians, like the people of other Pacific Island countries, are blessed to have many talented craftspeople in their midst. From wood carvers to weavers, the skills continue to amaze many today.
So when more than 400 women artisans converged at the Vodafone Arena, at Laucala Bay in Suva last week to showcase their many products, it was a feast of beauty and craft. Women from as far as the Lau Group, Rotuma and islands in the North attended the 2017 National Women's Expo.
Among those talented women was Adi Arieta Kabu of Nakawaga, Mali Island, an island off the coast of Vanua Levu.
The mother of four caught our attention with her eye-catching products which were a bit different from that of the the other women. Hers was a dinner set made entirely of pandanus leaves or voivoi in the iTaukei language. She also had picture frames made from the leaves. Shells collected from the seashore were used as decoration on her frame boards.
"I've been doing this work for more than nine years but for weaving of mats and other traditional handicraft items, I've been doing it since I was in primary school," she said.
With four children still in high school and primary school, she said it helped supplement their family income.
"My eldest son is in Form Seven (Year 13) at Niusawa High School on Taveuni, my second son in Form Five (Year 11) in Labasa while my two youngest are in primary school," she said.
"Coming to the national expo has been an eye-opener. I've been attending since 2014 and each time I leave with new ideas.
"I'm amazed at the different talents on show. The other women have such an array of crafts and it's astounding to see the various products on display."
Adi Arieta added she hoped to incorporate new ideas to her many products and return to the expo next year with a variety of handicraft products.
"The only challenge with working with pandanus leaves is the weather.
"The leaves cannot be dried well. It sets my work back by more than a week. It's terrible especially when you trying to meet orders from clients," she said with a smile.
"I hope after this expo, an overseas market is secured for us. This would open a lot of doors for most local women artisans.
Babasiga (pronounced bambasinga) is the dry land of Macuata in northern Fiji - our place in the sun in Fiji. Peceli is from Fiji from the village is Vatuadova and the beach is Nukutatava. Peceli Ratawa passed away on 27th December 2015 so this is Wendy's blog now. Wendy is an Australian and today live in Geelong, Australia.