Making a sleeping mat (vasa)
During my stays in the 1980s, many Sikaiana people still slept on mats made of pandanus, although many had foam mattresses and those living in town might sleep on a manufactured 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 strips are then plaited.
The pandanus was harvested on Sikaiana. Sometimes pandanus coils were made into mats on Sikaiana, other times they were sent to Honiara, where the mats were plaiting. The following pictures include plaiting both on Sikaiana and in Honiara. These pictures were taken between 1980-83.