Making a sleeping mat (vasa)

Many Sikaiana people still sleep on mats made of pandanus, although many had foam mattresses and those living in town might sleep on a mattress.¬†The pandanus mat was women’s work and was in some senses equivalent to a canoe. Sometimes a man and woman would exchange a canoe for a sleeping mat. Mats should¬†fold flat and the plaiting should be straight.

A woman starts a mat by collecting pandanus leaves. The spine is stripped and the leaf is pounded flat. It is then rolled into a coil and cut into strips. The stripes are then plaited.