The ‘upa’upa is an ancient dance which originated in Tahiti. European discoverers have described it as “indecent”.
It is not quite clear how close (or how far apart) the gestures at that time were with the now immensely popular t?m?r?. In both dances the performers form groups of pairs of a boy and a girl, dancing more or less in sexually oriented movements.
A kiekie is a kind of Tongan dress used as an ornamental girdle around the waist. This is normally worn by women on semiformal occasions and gatherings but is also worn by men today. Meanwhile, for casual occasions, no girdle is needed to be worn for both genders. However, women could also opt to wear girdle if they want to because it is considered as a nice looking decoration for clothing which Tongan could show off.
Kiekie could be best characterized as something that is between a grass skirt and a mat which is supposed to be transparent to show the skirt that is worn under it. The strings of kiekie could be short as a mini skirt or even down to the ankles. But the common length is above the knees.
Often connected with the kiekie is the sisi, where the strings are leaves or plaited maile leaves. But the place where the waistband is place, full with sweet smelling flowers and fruits, appears to be more important. Sisi are worn by both gender during dance performances.
Kiekie are part of the koloa, the handicraft goods made by the women. Every woman can do it, although nowadays we see that some women specialize in it and sell their products on the market.
Kiekie can be made from many different materials, both natural and introduced:
– strips of pandanus leaves, often painted in bright colors. Either hanging loose, or plaited together. The salusalu is a long kiekie, especially for Ha’apai.
– strips of hibiscus bast fiber, called fau. Same as the pandanus leaves, but not as course and therefore suited for finer designs.
– kaka, fibrous tissue which is wrapped around the growing fronds of palm trees. It is usually varnished to make it stronger and then cut in all type of shapes.
– strings or ropes
– little disks (few centimeter diameter) made from coconut shell and strung together along their diameter.
– old VHS tapes.
Pareo is wraparound skirt mostly used by the Tahitians. Before, it only referred to the skirts of women because men used to only wear loincloth tagged as a “maro.” However, today, the term “pareo” is referred to any piece of cloth that is wrapped around the body as a kind of clothing worn by both men and women. Pareo is also related to Malay sarong, Tongan tupenu and other similar garments.
The Tahitian pareo is among the colorful clothing pieces in the Pacific region. Originally flower patterns, the hibiscus flowers in particular, or traditional tapa patterns, were printed in bright colors on a cotton sheet of about 90 or 120 cm wide and 180 cm long, made in China. Nowadays they are also made in Tahiti itself and dye painting with varying colors is popular as well.
A piece of pareo could be worn in a number of ways to give variation to the garment.
Women would usually wrap it around their upper bodies which would cover their breasts and their knees. Their either rely on their breasts so that the pareo would not slide down their body or in some occasions, they opt to wrap around the clothing piece on their shoulder or neck.
In most of the traditional surroundings the covering of the upper body is not given much importance, but the covering of the thighs is so it is worn as a longer skirt. Men wear it as a short skirt, or may even make shorts out of it, especially when fishing or working in the bush where freedom of movement of the legs is needed. But during quiet, cooler nights at home, they may wear it as a long skirt too.”