Masi Printing & Motifs
Masi, as are other tapas around the South Pacific, is typically adorned with a variety of motifs known in Fiji as 'vakamata’ or ‘draudrau’. Motifs applied in geometric patterns are unique to certain regions within Fiji and often considered sacred knowledge passed on between the women of the village or from mother to daughter over generations. Some Motifs however are common throughout the Pacific Islands and this is evidence of strong ties and history. For the discerning eye, there the motifs in Fijian masi are diverse and each masi maker uses motifs and terminology that is part of the collective traditional heritage. Masi motifs are traditionally the jurisdiction of the respective chiefs they were made for.
Motifs are stained onto the tapa material using a stenciling method and free hand painting using a pandanus nut or similar natural products. Stencils would be cut from Banana Leaves or Pandanus Leaves and similar natural materials. Other Pacific Islands also use pressing, or stamping methods.
Author: Seini Racule
Editor: Simione Sevudredre
Photo: Women from Nayau Island in Lau printing their traditional motifs.