Lalava: decorative sennit lashing

coconut husks

coconut husks

The ancient Tongan art of lalava is the  use of decorative sennit lashings (Magimagi)  in the construction of canoes, houses and tools. The sennit lashings are made from coconut husks in black or natural. The husks are baked then soaked in water for several days, then pounded and dried in the sun. The fibers are then spun by rolling on the thigh. The resulting string is braided. The individual strings can be very coarse (like rope) or very fine. In the past,  it was a job left for the men. 
magimagi used in a Lalava design

The art of Lalava was  a result of the lack of building supplies (nails and screws). Magimagi (sennit) was used in place of nails and screws  to connect the beams.

Talitali is the weaving done on horizontal beams.  Lalawa is weaving that was done on the  vertical beams. Malo/Lairo is the woven design insert. These designs were accomplished by the Vulaga of the Fiji Islands.

Tonga and Fiji are neighboring islands in the South Pacific.

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