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Experience the Culture of Samoa

Experience the Culture of Samoa

story by: House of Travel

Afio mai! Welcome to Samoa, a nation with a vibrant history and warm, welcoming culture.

Whether you are standing in front of the beautifully detailed arts and crafts on display in the museums, or accepting an invitation from matai (chiefs) to share a traditional meal at the nu'u (cultural villages), there are a range of activities on offer. Taking the time to enjoy these can help you gain a deep, meaningful understanding of fa'a Samoa - the people of Samoa - and their fascinating way of life. 

Museum of Samoa 

A charming two-storey colonial building, built over a century ago, the Museum of Samoa houses a collection of historic artefacts made by Samoans as well as other Pacific Islanders. It is fitting that such a heritage structure is the home for the wonders inside, as many of the items on display were crafted centuries ago - some as far back as 3,000 years- with old pottery and stone adze discovered in Samoa proudly on display. 

The Culture Room within the museum is a jewel to admire, full of intricately woven tapestry-style art forms called 'siapo' or 'tapa'. These printed cloths are made using the inner bark of paper mulberry trees, worn as garments or used as currency.

Earthy shades of brown or beige are the backdrop for black pattern work on these cloths, woven seamlessly together to create stunning monochromatic artworks. What makes them really special is that the ancient skill for creating these has been passed down the generations, ensuring that siapo are made even today, making them a part of living history. 

For sports fans, be sure to check out equipment from 'taulafoga', an ancient traditional Samoan sport, while art lovers can marvel over shards of decorated Lapita Pottery. This was unearthed by archaeological teams from New Zealand and the US during the 1970s around the Mulifanua wharf area, and carbon dating has found these are from the period 800 BC. Gaze at these 2,800 year old pieces of carved pottery, some with the added texture of encrusted corals after being submerged over the years. 
Located in the Ministry of Education and Sports Complex, the museum is open every week day from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Be sure to visit and immerse yourself in this immortalised history of the Pacific.

Fiafia Night

Most resorts in Samoa host these events on the weekends, where a delicious outdoor feast filled with local produce and seafood is offered to guests. Meals are typically cooked in an 'umu' - an earth oven of hot stones - to offer healthy food cooked without oil, wrapped in banana leaves. Sit outside on a balmy evening, tasting authentic Samoan cuisine as you watch men dressed in lava lavas and women wearing puletasi perform special dances. 

Dance is an intrinsic part of Samoan culture, a way to share narratives through movement in a graceful yet powerful expression of emotion. The 'siva' dance performed by Samoan maidens is a lovely chance to witness the ancient art of story telling, with slow, gentle, fluid arm motions and effortlessly light, gliding feet movements.

Men perform the fa'ataupati dance, full of energetic clapping and enthusiasm, supplying a jolt of excitement through the crowd. Tension is palpable in the air when the siva afi begins, a knife fire dance performed by young boys as they bravely and expertly swirl a large knife lit at both ends with burning flames. As wild beats from wooden drums sound, they twirl the knife around their neck, shoulders and knees, having you at the edge of your seats in anticipation and awe. Join in at the end of the evening with a taualuga (final dance) and learn the moves like a local. 

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