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Keeping culture alive through weaving

By Rosemary Yambune

There are many methods to save designs that hold historical importance to one’s culture.

For 61 year-old Ovaro Ou from Iokea in Gulf Province, weaving provides a comfortable space for her to print, preserve and share her clan’s identity which is the ‘Moutapupuri’ design.

For over 14 years, Ovaro has been weaving baskets, purses, hats, hand-fans, phone wallets and mats from the fibres of Pandanus tree.

Once she is satisfied with her woven products she then styles the ‘Moutapupuri’ design onto her woven products with ink from the store. Moutapupuri is a term in the Toaripi language that describes how the flower dances with the wind.

The design identifies their clan of Savuripi, which she hopes would be preserved for the generations to come.

 After a decade, people in her village started to demand more products from what she can make. She began selling her woven products for genuine prices.

“We send the items to third parties who do the selling for my family and I in Port Moresby because we all live in the village” she said.

Until recently she was invited to attend a SME – Pop-Up Market to showcase her products.

Ware Sarufa, her niece who invited her to the show, says Ovaro represents many women in her village who are skilled at weaving.

“Showcasing her work to a market in Port Moresby has given Ovaro a taste and exposure to a modern market” Ware said.

All of Ovaro’s products are made from the fibres of the pandanus tree, a palm-like shrub that she grows in her backyard for weaving purposes.

Ovaro shared with the crew how she skilfully followed the process of planting a pandanus, harvesting only the mature leaves and how she dried those leaves into parched fibres ready for weaving.

At the time of our interview with her, Ovaro was waiting for a few of her products to be sold before she will return to Gulf Province.

Her four children and even grandchildren have already mastered the skill of printing ‘Moutapupuri’ on elegantly woven products.

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