Samoa Culture and Kava

Samoa Culture and KavaIn a “coconut shell,” the culture of Samoa, one of the compositions of Oceania, is a communal way of life. Samoan culture spells collective living in almost all aspects of their lives. Their traditional living quarters have no walls and can accommodate up to twenty people. During daytime, these structures serve as a venue where people can relax and chat. Every Samoan also values his or her family so much because their culture dictates that the family should be the center of their life.

The “aiga” or the extended family in popular terms also lives and works together which is a manifestation of the Samoan close family ties. The elders who are members of the family are duly respected and revered.

Meanwhile, the Samoan culture is popular for its traditional dance dubbed as the “Siva”. This is quite similar to the Hawaiian dance in which almost all people are familiar with. The Siva dance could be described by the gentle movements of the hands while the feet of the dancer beat into the music which tells a story.

Meanwhile, the Sundays of the Samoans are traditionally a day of rest where many families meet together for a Sunday lunch. Usually, the elders of the family would seat and eat first, and during the meal, the younger members of the family are eventually invited to join the lunch. Their usual Sunday lunch is mainly composed of fresh seaweed, crayfish, rice, and baked taro.

Kava Kava is also deeply imbedded in the culture. Kava bowls are sturdy, round wooden bowls made of varying sizes. Kava bowls have a number of short legs around it. The drink made from Kava is made up with water in the bowl and drunken socially using coconut shells to scoop up the drink. It is a ground natural extract from the pepper plant root and intended for medicinal and slightly aesthetic properties.

Samoans are also famous of their handicrafts which are available at the craft market and some shops. These include the “siapo”, made from beaten mulberry bark, with patterns and pictures painted on it with a natural brown dye. These pictures are usually fish, turtles, and hibiscus flowers. The siapo may also be used for clothing, for wrapping objects and merely for embellishments or decorations.

Other handicrafts are fine mats, ornaments or jewelry and hair accessories using naturally occurring materials such as sea shells, coconut and coir. Traditional Samoan medicine is often practiced as a first-line before hospital medicine. This is a type of alternative medicine using plant leaves to massage the affected area.

As for the clothing of the Samoans, traditional ladies usually wear “puletasi” which is a matching skirt with tunic which have native Samoan designs. In addition, the “lava lava” is a sarong which could be worn by both men and women. These “lava lava” come in different designs and patterns but are usually plain for men.

Some of the Samoan men have tattoos on the lower part of their bodies and on their upper legs which have intricate and geometrical patterns. These tattoos are done without the use of any anesthesia.

Meanwhile, after the invasion of the culture by outside forces, most natives were converted to Christianity. AS a result, Protestant Christianity has become the main religion that influenced the population of Samoa. During the early 1830s, there are missionaries from the Protestant Christianity within Samoa from the London Missionary Society.


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